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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Cumbria beaches drop in quality guide

WATER quality at Cumbria’s beaches has taken a battering, a new survey shows.

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IMPROVEMENT Sunset at Sandy Gap, Walney Island Maisie Dodds

The Marine Conservation Society published its Good Beach Guide today, revealing just one Cumbrian beach has shown an improvement in bathing water quality.

Sandy Gap beach on Walney has improved from the MCS’s “mandatory” rating to its second highest “guideline” rating, while beaches at Silecroft, Walney West Shore and Walney Biggar Bank have all seen quality standards decline.

Haverigg beach has retained its mandatory rating, along with Askam and Roanhead.

Silecroft has dropped from the highest rating – “recommended” – to mandatory, the minimum bathing water quality.

Walney West Shore and Walney Biggar Bank both got “fail” ratings.

The society has recommended only 403 of the 754 UK bathing beaches tested last year as having excellent water quality – just over half, and 113 fewer beaches than were recommended last year.

The authority said even more concerning was the fact that 42 beaches failed to meet even a minimum European standard, or equivalent, for bathing water quality – 17 more than in last year’s guide.

Relentless rain and flooding in many parts of the country led to an increase in the amount of bacteria and viruses ending up in bathing water.

Rachel Wyatt, MCS Coastal Pollution Officer, said: “We have recommended fewer beaches in every English region and in Wales and Scotland.

“In England, the North West and south west were hit particularly hard, with the fewest number of recommended beaches for at least a decade. Action must be taken now.

“With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden beaches could be at serious risk.

“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, then that would be a significant start.”

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