EU Swimming warnings now in force on Britain’s beaches !

Certain attractive waterside locations in the UK now have signs erected advising people not to swim in the sea.

New rules introduced by the EU have meant that signs have had to be erected at 10 beaches in England (and 17 more in Scotland next month) warning of the dangers to bathers. “Poor” water quality has been measured for some 4 years at these locations such that the requirement for the warning is now required.

Locations in England include parts of Clacton in Essex, Margate in Kent, Ilfracombe and Instow in Devon, East Looe in Cornwall, Burnham in Somerset, Allonby and Silloth in Cumbria, Cleveleys in Lancashire and Spittal in Northumberland.

Some of the pollution including animal waste and other pollutants – and in some places nearly all – is caused by pollution coming off the land in heavy rain and being carried by rivers which then have a slower rate of fall when they meet the sea or an estuary, such that contamination has been left on the beaches. Usually, within a tide or two, the level of pollutants falls dramatically to enable a good standard of unpolluted water, and a clean beach is achieved within a day or two.

Very often the time of most pollution is in winter and spring – not when people immediately think of bathing. The news may have some affect on local economies and properties, but in most cases is unlikely to be significant.

The signs are advisory and are not a ban. The move is based on an EU bathing water directive and testing by the Environment Agency. Over 600 have been rated as safe or excellent and only 27 are poor.

Details of bathing water quality around England and Wales can be identified here:

For Wales:

For England:

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said: “Swimming is allowed and all beaches remain open. New EU standards are simply there to advise and inform the public on water quality”.

*Back to May 2016 Newsletter*

©     LB