Holidaymakers told ‘do not swim’ at popular British beach over health fears

Red flags have been planted into a popular Norfolk beach to deter holidaymakers away from the sea

Rachel Flynn
Saturday 05 August 2023 13:59 BST
Crowds on the beach at Well-next-the-Sea before the health alert.
Crowds on the beach at Well-next-the-Sea before the health alert. (Alamy)

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Holidaymakers have been warned not to swim at a popular British beach, as the water is deemed unsafe due to health fears.

Red flags were put in place on the shore of Wells-next-the-Sea on Wednesday (2 August), after concerns were raised by Environment Agency officers about the levels of bacteria in the seawater.

North Norfolk District Council was advised of a pollution risk by the EA, leading to ‘do not swim’ signs being put in place.

A spokesperson from North Norfolk District Council said: “The safety of our residents and many thousands of visitors to our popular beaches is of paramount importance to us.

“Red flags advising against swimming at Wells Beach have been put in place as a precautionary measure after we received an automated pollution risk advisory from the Environment Agency. We will await further updates from the Environment Agency before making any further comment.”

The health fears have been raised during the beach resort’s annual carnival week.

A council spokesperson told the Eastern Daily Press that the risk forecast alert was “different from a controlled spillage overflow alert, based on data predictions and modelling.”

The owner of Wells-next-the-Sea, Holkham Estate, also said the pitching of red flags was not related to raw sewage.

A spokesman from the Holkham Estate told The Mirror: “The bacteria at Wells is natural and related to the salt marshes and ‘wash off’ of bird/animal faeces.”

Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea.
Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. (Adam Batterbee)

On Friday (4 August), an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “A Pollution Risk Forecast (PRF) was issued for Wells yesterday. These forecasts are based on rainfall, wind and tidal patterns and alert people when water quality may be poor.

“Throughout the bathing season (May to September), the Environment Agency will issue warnings of any forecasted pollution risk on its Swimfo website.”

Since 2018 the water quality of Well’s Beach has been deemed “sufficient” by the Environment Agency’s advice website Swimfo and received a “good” classification in 2022.

The Liberal Democrats’ prospective parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk, Steffan Aquarone, said he was “disgusted and dismayed” after red flags were planted for one day at another Norfolk seaside, Mundesley Beach, The Sun reported.

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