A campaign group seeking bathing status for a section of a Suffolk river has called on the Government to 'take responsibility' after data revealed many potential bathing sites had 'poor' water quality.

However, Save the Deben said water sampling of the River Deben at Woodbridge by action group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) showed the water was 'safe' two hours before high tide, when the river can be used by swimmers.

Last week, the EADT reported that a second application for designated bathing water status for the Woodbridge area had been postponed for a year because East Suffolk Council was unable to support the bid due to concerns about the dangers to swimmers posed by river boats.

READ MORE: Second bathing water bid for Suffolk river is postponed

The campaigners are now hoping to create a demarcated safe area for swimmers to alleviate the council's concerns.

A previous bid had failed because Defra deemed the number of swimmers using the Woodbridge site to be too low.

SAS, which campaigns for clean oceans, rivers and lakes, has sampled water at 40 popular swimming sites in England and found the quality would be deemed 'poor' if the locations were made designated bathing sites.

READ MORE: Woodbridge: River Deben bathing water status bid fails

The action group said the results from the 2023 bathing season showed the 'shocking state' of UK bathing waters in a year when untreated sewage was discharged more than 399,000 times into waterways.

Save the Deben's co-founder Ruth Leach said as the Deben was a tidal estuary, the tides diluted potentially harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, in the water, although she suspected the results may have been different if the tests had been conducted at low tide.

She added: "Surfers Against Sewage have done a fantastic job in supporting applicants for a designated bathing water status.

READ MORE: Woodbridge news

"While testing the samples over 20 weeks to give us a baseline of sewage contamination and an indication of water quality, they have in fact provided a credible and robust body of evidence revealing the true extent of the poor state of our rivers from a public health point of view.

"This directly translates into a poor picture for the environment.

"The tragedy is that this data only covers popular bathing areas - our chalk streams simply don't have that voice to speak out for their dire situation.

"This is something that the Government should be taking responsibility for."

READ MORE: Suffolk news