UK bathing beaches in 2013 of “high quality” says Good Beach Guide

The Guardian reports, 15th April 2014: “As well as helping butterflies and bees, last year’s hot and dry British summer led to a record number of beaches reaching the highest standard of water quality in nearly three decades. The Good Beach Guide, compiled by the charity Marine Conservation Society (MCS), said that in 2013 almost three-quarters of 734 beaches around the UK coast reached the highest rating of excellent water quality.

The results mark a dramatic turnaround from 2012, which was the second wettest summer on record, with heavy rain causing overflowing sewage and agricultural pollution to wash into the sea.

A series of wet years has previously seen the MCS warning that in 2011 one-third of the beaches had failed because of levels of the bacterium E.Coli, which can cause severe illness in humans and is an indicator of other bacteria in bathing water. But thanks in large part to the dry summer of 2013, just 2% of beaches failed, with 73% reaching its top “recommended” level.

Rachel Wyatt, coastal pollution officer at MCS, said: “It’s great news that we are able to recommend more beaches than ever for excellent water quality and it shows just how good British beaches can be. The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.”

In England, Cornwall and Devon had a high number of recommended beaches, apart from Instow Beach in north Devon which failed. Most beaches on the south, east and north-east coast were recommended, while those of the north-west coast were predominantly “mandatory”, the second-lowest rating.

Wales was largely recommended, apart from beaches across north Wales which were mostly mandatory. Aberdyfi, Aberaeron South, Llanina and Broughton Bay failed.

Scotland’s beaches were broadly divided between those in the Firth of Clyde on the west coast ranking mandatory, below the mostly recommended beaches of the east coast.

Beaches in Northern Ireland were largely recommended, except for Ballycastle, Ballyholme and Castlerock which were mandatory. No beaches in Scotland or Northern Ireland failed.

Wyatt added: “Most people don’t realise what a big impact the weather can have on bathing water quality, but this has really been highlighted in the last few years. 2008, 2009 and 2012 were, according to the Met Office, amongst the wettest summers on record since 1910, and fewer UK bathing waters met minimum and higher water quality standards because of increased pollution running off rural and urban areas and overloaded sewers.”

The charity’s guide, which has been running for 27 years, is based on water samples taken by central and local government agencies during mid-May and September. From the end of 2015 onwards, UK beaches — where water quality has been improving over the long term — will be judged by a new, more stringent EU classification system.

Note: For the text and details of the new EU Bathing Water Directive, 2006/7/EC, click here.

Source: The Guardian, 15th April 2014. For the full text, see

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