Britain’s Beaches Set For Major Clean-Up

Posted on: 11 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

The government has vowed to halt anymore deterioration of the nation’s coastal areas after a damning European report placed 25 resorts on a dirty list.


The government has vowed to boost efforts to clean up the coastline after the latest European beaches report criticised the quality of water at more than two dozen resorts in the UK

The vast majority of the nation's favourite coastal areas meet strict EU bathing water cleanliness standards. But too much rain is being blamed for putting the chic Cornish resort of Rock on the dirty list, as well as Sandgate in Kent and 23 other swimming areas on the country's tourist map. Most of the UK bathing areas needing improvement were in the south-west – Devon and Cornwall – and in Scotland.

"We're working to improve sewerage systems and are aware of the effect heavy rain and flooding can have on our coastal bathing waters" said a government spokesman. "The proposal to make connections to sewers subject to meeting national standards will result in less water reaching sewerage treatment works, and consequently reduce the risk of flooding and pollution to our beaches."

The EU report echoed a survey last month, which recorded a fall in the number of English beaches awarded "blue flags" for cleanliness in 2009. The fall was attributed to the heavy rain and flooding in 2008 and 2007, which washed pollutants into the sea and affected water quality. Earlier this year, the Marine Conservation Society also claimed litter on British beaches had reached record levels, more than doubling in the past 15 years and putting marine life at risk.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it is currently tackling pollution from agriculture source, including grants to build fences between livestock and watercourses, and advice to farmers on reducing water pollution.

The latest report is based on 2008 water cleanliness tests carried out at more than 21,000 bathing spots around the 27 EU countries. The large majority meet EU hygiene requirements – 96% of the total coastal bathing areas and 92% of bathing sites in rivers and lakes were found to be up to standard.

The commissioner for the environment, Stavros Dimas said: "High quality bathing water is essential for the well-being of European citizens and the environment – and this goes for all other bodies of water too. I am pleased to see that the overall quality of water in bathing areas is improving throughout the union."

The largest number of coastal bathing waters can be found in Italy, Greece, France, Spain and Denmark, while Germany and France have the highest number of inland bathing waters.

The UK beaches and inland swimming spots failing to meet minimum EU clean water standards in 2008 were:

Northern Ireland

  • Ballyholme


  • Machrihanish (Argyll and Bute)
  • Saltcoats/Ardrossan (North Ayrshire)
  • Sandyhills (Dumfries and Galloway)
  • Portobello Central (Edinburgh)
  • Rosehearty (Aberdeenshire)
  • Cruden Bay (Aberdeenshire)
  • Aberdeen


  • Llandanwag


  • Seaton (Cornwall)
  • East Looe (Cornwall)
  • Rock (Cornwall)
  • Readymoney (Cornwall)
  • Porthluney (Cornwall)
  • Plymouth Hoe East (Devon)
  • Plymouth Hoe West (Devon)
  • Exmouth (Devon)
  • Instow (Devon)
  • Coombe Martin (Devon)


  • Allonby (Cumbria)
  • St Bees (Cumbria)
  • Aldingham (Cumbria)
  • Windermere, Millerground landings (Cumbria)
  • Yorkshire & Humberside
  • Staithes (North Yorkshire)


  • Sandgate (Kent)

Is your local beach on the dirty list? What do you make of the latest report? Are Britain's beaches dirty?

Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or share your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.

Share with friends


You need to be signed in to rate.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned!