British beaches bathing water better than ever

A record number of British beaches have passed the latest water quality tests with 73.7% of beaches achieving the EU's tightest standards.

And, results for 2005 show that 98.8% of designated bathing waters around England now meet minimum requirements.

Only five sites failed to meet the EU minimum.

By comparison, in the early 1990s, less than a third of England's beaches reached the toughest standards.

"This is good news for those who enjoy going for a swim at the beach and is also a boost to seaside tourism," said Elliot Morley, Environment Minister. "These excellent results show that the £1 billion that has been spent improving sewage treatment over the last ten years has paid off."

He added that there was still plenty of work to do, with the next big challenge being to tackle diffuse pollution, especially from farming.

It is hoped that this year's results will help prepare for a revised EU bathing water directive which should result in even higher water quality standards.

David Hopkins



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