East Anglia: Beaches to face tougher EU water laws

Southwold beach. All Suffolk and Essex beaches are facing tougher water quality regulations

Southwold beach. All Suffolk and Essex beaches are facing tougher water quality regulations - Credit: Nick Butcher

Beaches in the region are set to be scrutinised by tighter EU water quality regulations.

Although the majority of beaches meet the tougher sewage laws there are fears that some – including Groyne 41 in Clacton – could fail, although those in charge of the beach have said they are confident this will not happen.

The new regulations will not be enforced until 2015, with nine out of 10 beaches in England already complying – including those in Suffolk and Essex.

The new law – which follows Blue Flag success for a number of the region’s beaches – means local authorities would need to display a sign advising against swimming for those that do not pass the standard.

Paul Hickey, deputy director of water quality at the Environment Agency, said: “With one year to go, the Environment Agency and partner organisations are focusing efforts on the small number of problem sites to bring them up to standard.”


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More than 400 bathing sites will be tested every week until September.

A spokeswoman said Groyne 41 is classed as “poor” – but still within current guidelines for water that is safe to swim in – due to pigeons roosting near the water.

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Nigel Brown, Tendring District Council’s communications manager, said the authority is fully aware of the new directive and added: “We have been working for some time with the Environment Agency and Anglian Water to ensure the standards are met.

“As hundreds of thousands of people have been in the sea at West Beach over recent years without any known ill effects it is anticipated the majority will continue to do so regardless of the outcome of future water quality reports. However, we are about raising standards and despite the challenges faced in respect of this location we are making every effort to meet these new much tougher standards.”

Andy Smith, deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council and cabinet member for coastal management, welcomed the extra safeguards but said sewage was not a problem.

He added: “Suffolk Coastal takes great pride in the excellent water quality which is borne out by the fact that Aldeburgh, Dunwich and Felixstowe have all achieved ‘Recommended’ status in the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide. We will continue to work to ensure standards are maintained.”

Southwold deputy mayor Simon Tobin said: “We welcome the new standard. It’s massively important to get an award like this because within a 10 miles radius of Southwold tourism generates £25million a year.”

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