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?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy