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Video: Suffolk and Essex praised for excellent water quality in new good beach guide

PUBLISHED: 11:51 15 April 2014

Mayor of Southwold Simon Tobin celebrates the news that Southwold has won a European award for clean water.

Mayor of Southwold Simon Tobin celebrates the news that Southwold has won a European award for clean water.

Sarah Lucy brown

Waves washing onto beaches in Suffolk and Essex have all passed European water quality standards – making them safe for visitors and residents to take a dip in.

The beach in Clacton The beach in Clacton

All the beaches tested along the two counties’ coasts gained the top “recommended” rating for excellence – with none of the samples examined failing the strict standards for sewage-related bacteria – except for five beaches classed as “mandatory”, achieving minimum standards.

Suffolk beaches achieving the highest standards were shores at Felixstowe and Southwold, and Lowestoft North, while Lowestoft South slipped from “recommended” last year to “mandatory” this year.

In Essex, two beaches at Clacton, Leigh Bell Wharf and Southend Jubilee all remained at the minimum standard.

The test results were released by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which said the UK’s driest summer for a decade had resulted in more bathing beaches than ever reaching the highest standards in its annual Good Beach Guide published today.

The Dip in Felixstowe. The Dip in Felixstowe.

MCS coastal pollution officer, Rachel Wyatt said she hoped the latest figures would bring a boost to tourism in the region after several previously wet summers led to a drop in bathing water quality.

She said: “It’s great news that we are able to recommend more beaches than ever for excellent water quality and it shows just how good British beaches can be.

“The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.

“Most people don’t realise what a big impact the weather can have on bathing water quality, but this has really been highlighted in the last few years.

“2008, 2009 and 2012 were, according to the Met Office, amongst the wettest summers on record since 1910, and fewer UK bathing waters met minimum and higher water quality standards because of increased pollution running off rural and urban areas and overloaded sewers.”

MCS has recommended 538 out of 734 – 73% – UK beaches tested during last summer as having excellent water quality, 135 more than the previous year.

There were also fewer failures, with just 14 UK beaches tested last summer failing to reach minimum water quality standards.

By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all designated bathing waters must meet the new minimum “Sufficient” standard due to the revised EU Bathing Water Directive.

This will be around twice as stringent as the current minimum standard and means some beaches will need to do more to make the grade in future which could include reducing pollution from sewage discharges, agricultural run-off and urban diffuse pollution, fixing mis-connected sewers and putting in place more steps to help dog owners clean up after their pets.

Beaches which don’t meet the “Sufficient” standard at the end of 2015 will have to display signs warning against bathing in the sea from the start of the 2016 season.

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