Don't come on in... the water's terrible: major reduction in number of recommended beaches

 

A dip in the sea will be the last thing on many people’s minds this Easter – but that may be for the best on some parts of the coast, with the quality of seawater dramatically worsening at famous British bathing spots because of last year’s heavy summer rainfall.

The number of beaches failing to meet even minimum standards for water quality has risen, and the South West in particular saw a number of its previously recommended beaches fail, including Exmouth in Devon and Bude Summerleaze in Cornwall. In the North West, just three beaches are recommended for excellent water, with popular beaches at Blackpool North and South failing to meet even the basic mandatory standards.

The alarming results were revealed in the annual Marine Conservation Society (MCS) report, which assesses water quality at most UK beaches, looking for pollutants and safety hazards.

The organisation warns today that swimmers could fall ill from bathing in water polluted by an increase in harmful bacteria and viruses.

Out of 754 beaches surveyed, just 403 were awarded the top “recommended” award in 2012, 113 fewer than the previous year. Meanwhile, 42 beaches failed to meet the minimum EU levels for acceptable bathing water, 17 more than 2011’s figures published in the Good Beach Guide.

The major reduction in the number of recommended beaches stems from the effects of rain and flooding, such as agricultural and urban run-off, storm waters, plumbing misconnections, septic tanks and dog waste.

Bathers can contract ear, nose and throat infections and gastroenteritis as a result of the contamination.

Ahead of tougher EU rules on water quality coming in from 2015 and the forecast of further wet summers, MCS has called for drastic action to be taken by water companies and local councils.

Criticising what they call an “out of sight, out of mind” approach, the organisation instead recommend the monitoring of sewer overflows, clear signposts warning of polluted water and even that tourists should report any pollution they might see.

MCS coastal pollution officer Rachel Wyatt said: “We have recommended fewer beaches in every English region and in Wales and Scotland. In England, the North West and South West were particularly badly hit with the fewest number of recommended beaches for at least a decade.

“There is no simple solution to sewage and animal waste reaching our seas. However if the water industry, communities and local authorities recognise that there is a problem and begin to work together to find answers, that would be a significant start.”

Britain’s beaches on the critical list

Exmouth Boasts a bustling tourism industry, but has too much bacteria to meet Good Beach Guide’s standards

Rhyl A popular Victorian resort, Rhyl’s beach did not meet the standards. Nearby Prestatyn is cleaner

Portobello Central This Edinburgh beach  improved this year with reduced levels of E coli bacteria

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence