Stats published by the Marine Conservation Society ((MCS) this week show that over half (55%) of the UK’s bathing beaches have excellent water quality, a slight increase on last year’s figure of just over 50%.

There has also been a significant fall in the number of beaches failing to meet an acceptable quality level.

This year there are just 41 failed sites, compared with 66 last year.

The MCS says the results would have been even better, were it not for three wet summers in a row which had led to more debris and pollution being washed into the water as drains overflowed.

Rachel Wyatt from the MCS Good Beach Guide, said: “In the last three years there’s been a shift in the water quality trend on our beaches. From 2001 there was a steady improvement which peaked in the Good Beach Guide of 2006 when we recommended a record 505 beaches.

“Since then, water quality has declined due to high volumes of rain carrying storm pollution from the sewer system, farmland and towns into the sea.

“The regional pattern to this rainfall means that some regions such as North West England and Scotland faired worse in this year’s guide whereas others like the Channel Isles did markedly better.”

MCS is concerned that the current situation may further deteriorate when new stricter bathing water standards are introduced in 2015.

Under this new regime, 83 (14%) of Britain’s beaches will fail the new minimum water quality standard if nothing’s done to improve them.

The list includes notables like Rock in Cornwall, Paignton Sands, Robin Hoods Bay, Bridlington South, Chalkwell bay at Southend, Plymouth Hoe and the main beach at Weston Super Mare.

David Gibbs

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