FIVE local beaches have received ‘excellent’ ratings for their water quality in a new survey of the UK’s coasts.
The Marine Conservation Society has given Skegness, Ingoldmells South, Chapel St Leonards, Anderby Creek and Moggs Eye ‘Recommended’ status - which is only awarded to those beaches which meet strict criteria and have ‘excellent’ water quality.
A further three beaches further up the Lincolnshire coastlien have also been given the same award - Sutton-on-Sea, Mablethorpe and Cleethorpes.
A total of 516 UK beaches out of 754 tested were awarded the status as part of the society’s latest edition of the Good Beach Guide, which it launched online today (Thursday).
The number of beaches which passed the test is up eight per cent (at 68 per cent) on 2011’s figures - and is the best result in the 25-year history of the guide.
MCS Coastal Pollution Officer, Rachel Wyatt, said: “This is a milestone for coastal resorts to be proud of and shows the impact of the Guide over the last 25 years.
“However, this summer will see the first samples taken under the revised Bathing Water Directive which will replace the current standards with far more stringent ones from 2015.
“It’s really important that local authorities, water companies and environmental regulators don’t become complacent and take their collective feet off the pedal of continued environmental improvements.
“If that happens we could see a drop in the number of beaches recommended by us in the future, which could pose a risk to the great reputation that British beaches have.”
Despite an encouraging number of recommended beaches this year, the picture around the UK is still varied. In Scotland the Good Beach Guide recommended only 45 out of 110 (41 per cent) bathing beaches tested last summer – five per cent less than the previous year, which had been one of Scotland’s best in the Guide.
Water quality at Scotland’s beaches has been impacted by heavy summer rains and above average rainfall in many areas.
In the North West of England water quality still remains low, with only just over a fifth of beaches recommended this year.
Rachel Wyatt added: “We still need to see more investment from water companies to ensure increased monitoring of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).
“After heavy rain, CSOs divert untreated sewage away from overloaded sewers and treatment works and discharge it directly into rivers and coastal waters.
“Last year we discovered that there are around 31,000 of these overflows in operation in the UK, but less than a quarter of them are monitored to see how often they are allowing raw sewage to enter the sea.
“It’s vital that improvements are made, so that we can fully understand what impact these pipes have on our bathing waters.”
In its 25-year history, the MCS Good Beach Guide has been used to improve the safety and quality of bathing water around the UK, by providing an interactive online resource (www.goodbeachguide.co.uk), which has become the first point of call for anyone looking for information about bathing water quality .
It also works to improve public understanding of the health risks associated weith poor water quality, and lobbies water companies and regulators to improve sewage discharrges.
The MCS is urging bathers and beachgoers to go online and check the listings, in order to maintain pressure on water companies, environmental regulators and local councils to tackle sources of bathing water pollution and to vote with their feet by bathing at beaches recommended in the Good Beach Guide.