The figures released today (November 15) show that in 2010 over eight in ten beaches (86.2%) met the EC guideline standard across England and Wales.

This is a big improvement on previous figures in 1990 when only three in ten bathing waters (32%) met with the standards.

The information is based on data published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Ten bathing waters failed to meet the minimum ‘mandatory’ standards: Saltburn and Staithes in the North East Region: Lyme Regis Church Beach, Mothecombe, Seaton (Cornwall), Seaton (Devon) and Instow in the South West; Heysham Half Moon Bay, St Annes and Walney Sandy Gap in the North West.

The Environment Agency investigates the causes of failure at each bathing water site that falls below mandatory standards and takes appropriate measures to address sources of pollution.

The Environment Agency is working with the water industry, local councils and farmers to improve water quality.

Among the Government’s measures to reduce and mitigate pollution from agricultural sources include the England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative and the establishment of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, which cover approximately 62% of England.

The Government is also planning to increase the uptake of sustainable drainage systems and to target diffuse pollution, including measures to correct sewer misconnections.

The Environment Agency’s chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster, said: “The number of bathing waters in England and Wales attaining the highest quality status has almost tripled over the last 20 years – over eight in ten sites now meet the EU “guideline” standard for water quality.

“The Environment Agency is working hard with others to drive improvements and tackle all sources of pollution alongside beach users, local authorities, farmers, land managers and water companies.”

Alison Brown

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