Britain's beaches clean up their act - thanks to the drought

A A A

The quality of Britain's beaches have been boosted by one of the driest winters in a decade.

The annual Good Beach Guide, published by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), praised more than 500 of the 800 bathing beaches in the UK for excellent water quality, compared with the previous record of 453.

The driest weather in England and Wales since 1995 substantially reduced the amount of storm pollution in the sea during weekly tests between May and September last year, the society said.

It is the first time the number of beaches recommended by the MCS rose above the 500 mark since the guide was launched in 1997. The number of beaches failing the minimum legal water quality standard dropped to 30 - a fall of 42 per cent from the 52 failures in 2005.

The North-east was pinpointed as the region with the cleanest beaches, with 67 per cent of all beaches recommended, an increase put down to drier weather and infrastructure investment by water companies. Scotland has the highest number of failed beaches, although the number has fallen by two to 12 this year.

The MCS's coastal pollution officer, Thomas Bell, said: "The results of this year's Good Beach Guide are fantastic news for UK beach-goers, who can choose from a record 507 recommended bathing sites. Britain's beaches have definitely bounced back from the relative low of summer 2004, which was one of the wettest on record."

The best performing regions include South-east England (107 recommended, a 26 per cent increase), North-east England (44; 69 per cent) and Wales (120; 32 per cent).

Scotland had no change (50) and Northern Ireland saw a slight increase (eight recommended).

The report said there was so little storm-related pollution running into the sea last summer that bathing water quality remained consistently high, particularly on beaches in South-east England and around Cardigan Bay in Wales.

It added that water companies have also invested heavily in waste-water management systems over the past 10 years and these two factors combined to produce "great" water quality results.

The Good Beach Guide is one of four beach "award" initiatives, but is the only scheme that focuses entirely on water quality standards and the risk of sewage pollution.

The society will only recommend beaches in the Good Beach Guide if they meet the guideline European water quality standard and are not affected by inadequately treated sewage.

The Good Beach Guide provides information on lifeguard cover, facilities, activities, access, parking and transport, and has an OS map and photograph for each beach.

This year's guide is supported by the Crown Estate, RNLI and Encams (Keep Britain Tidy group).

The Environment minister Ian Pearson said: "Today's results are a welcome boost to seaside tourism and for those who enjoy swimming at the beach. It reflects the huge improvement seen in the quality of English coastal waters over recent years."

Regional guide

* NORTH-EAST

An extra 18 beaches recommended this year. The judges praised Withernsea, East Riding, an old resort with a rebuilt promenade. It also has a lighthouse, museum and pier. The beach is sand and shingle.

* ISLE OF MAN

One more beach is recommended: Gansey Bay, a sandy beach just to the east of Port St Mary, which failed to make the grade in the previous two years. Popular with dog walkers.

* NORTHERN IRELAND

Two extra beaches. These include Helen's Bay, Co Down, a sandy beach backed by the town of Belfast and bordered by the picturesque Grey Point.

* WALES

A total of 29 extra beaches recommended, including Abergele-Towyn, Conwy. This is a rural, unspoilt, shingle beach, known for walks and panoramic seascapes. Popular for catching crabs and its funfair.

* SOUTH-EAST

An extra five beaches have been recommended, including Broadstairs beach, Kent, known locally as Invicta beach. A sandy beach in an established seaside town that was once home to Charles Dickens, it failed last year.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own