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'More clean beaches than ever' says Good Beach Guide

The silver anniversary edition of the Good Beach Guide, by the Marine Conservation Society, has recommended 516 out of 754 (68%) UK bathing beaches tested last summer as having excellent water quality – that’s 8% more than last year and the best in the Guide’s 25-year history.

MCS Coastal Pollution Officer, Rachel Wyatt, says the latest figures will be a boost to UK tourism, but it’s not a reason for complacency: “This is a milestone for coastal resorts to be proud of and shows the impact of the Guide over the last 25 years. However, this summer will see the first samples taken under the revised Bathing Water Directive which will replace the current standards with far more stringent ones from 2015.

"It’s really important that local authorities, water companies and environmental regulators don’t become complacent and take their collective feet off the pedal of continued environmental improvements. If that happens we could see a drop in the number of beaches recommended by us in the future, which could pose a risk to the great reputation that British beaches have.”

Despite an encouraging number of recommended beaches this year, the picture around the UK is still varied. In Scotland the Good Beach Guide recommended only 45 out of 110 (41%) bathing beaches tested last summer – 5% less than the previous year which had been one of Scotland’s best in the Guide. Water quality at Scotland’s beaches has been impacted by heavy summer rains and above average rainfall in many areas.

In the North West of England water quality still remains worryingly low, with only just over a fifth of beaches recommended this year. The poor performance of some areas of the UK is a real cause for concern, especially with the forthcoming introduction of tougher standards.

Rachel Wyatt says: “We still need to see more investment from water companies to ensure increased monitoring of Combined Sewer Overflows. After heavy rain, CSOs divert untreated sewage away from overloaded sewers and treatment works and discharge it directly into rivers and coastal waters. Last year we discovered that there are around 31,000 of these overflows in operation in the UK, but less than a quarter of them are monitored to see how often they are allowing raw sewage to enter the sea. It’s vital that improvements are made, so that we can fully understand what impact these pipes have on our bathing waters.”

MCS is urging bathers and beachgoers to go online and check the listings, in order to maintain pressure on water companies, environmental regulators and local councils to tackle sources of bathing water pollution and to vote with their feet by bathing at beaches recommended in the Good Beach Guide.

Source: Marine Conservation Society
Photo: Fe. Køs - Designer Digital

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