Bathing waters get clean bill of health

BATHING waters alongside East Anglia's main beaches are given a generally clean bill of health todayalthough one of them is downgraded.The Marine Conservation Society's (MCSs) Good Beach Guide 2004 includes more than 20 beaches along the Suffolk and north Essex coasts.

BATHING waters alongside East Anglia's main beaches are given a generally clean bill of health todayalthough one of them is downgraded.

The Marine Conservation Society's (MCSs) Good Beach Guide 2004 includes more than 20 beaches along the Suffolk and north Essex coasts.

However, West Mersea beach is downgraded from a "recommended" site to one which merely reached the minimum "pass" criteria.

Elsewhere there is no change as all the beaches listed last year as "recommended" or "pass" have been given the same status in the 2004 guide.


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An administrative mistake means that Felixstowe South beach has been excluded from the guide although it is shown as "recommended" on the MCS website.

The listings are based on routine water quality tests carried out by local authorities between May and September.

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However, not all beaches are monitored and in East Anglia this includes Harwich, Aldeburgh, Dunwich and Kessingland.

Nationally, 453 beaches are now recommended for their good sea bathing water quality, 56% of the total monitored.

There is also a significant fall in the number failing the European Commission's mandatory standard for sewage bacteria, down to 26 from 53 in 2003.

The MCS, a charity dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its wildlife, said better sewage treatment, the more effective management of water running off farms and exceptional weather had contributed to the improvement in water quality.

It is calling for more public information on beaches that fail the lowest standards and for a continuation of the improvement programme for sewage works.

Thomas Bell, who produced the Good Beach Guide for the MCS, said there had been a year on year improvement in coastal water quality, partly because of the guide's annual scrutiny of beaches.

"I wouldn't jump in the sea without consulting the guide first, and you can drop it in your pocket if you're heading for the coast," he said.

Beaches given a "recommended" listing include Jaywick, Brightlingsea, Holland-on-Sea, Frinton, Dovercourt, Felixstowe north and south, Southwold Denes and Pier, Gunton Denes and Lowestoft north and south.

Two of Clacton's beaches - Clacton and Martello Tower - are given "recommended" status, but the third, known as Groyne 1, is given a lower grade "pass".

West Mersea and Walton are also given a "pass" grade.

Colchester Borough Council, the district of which includes West Mersea, said bathing water quality was a matter for the Environment Agency and it did not wish to comment on the contents of the new guide.

There was no-one available to comment on behalf of the Environment Agency.

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