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Why Suffolk no longer has any Blue Flag beaches

PUBLISHED: 07:27 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:31 16 May 2019

Southwold beach did not apply for a Blue Flag due to a drop in water quality Picture: SIMON PARKER

Southwold beach did not apply for a Blue Flag due to a drop in water quality Picture: SIMON PARKER

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Suffolk no longer has any Blue Flag beaches while Norfolk and Essex have six each - with high levels of E-coli and potential discharge of sewage among the reasons for lower water quality in the county.

A view of Southwold beach from the pier.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA view of Southwold beach from the pier. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The last Suffolk beach to earn a Blue Flag was Southwold Pier last year, but it did not apply for the award in 2019 as the quality of the water was rated as 'good', with Blue Flag beaches requiring 'excellent'.

A spokesman for East Suffolk Councils said it was delighted three beaches had been awarded 'Seaside Awards' - Lowestoft South, Southwold and Kessingland - but that they had not met the water quality standard required for a Blue Flag.

She said: "We have outstanding, popular beaches in east Suffolk and these awards reflect that.

"Neither Southwold nor Lowestoft beach applied for a Blue Flag award this year, despite having both received 'good' water quality results.

The beach at Lowestoft could not register for a Blue Flag as its water quality has not met the 'excellent' criteria Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe beach at Lowestoft could not register for a Blue Flag as its water quality has not met the 'excellent' criteria Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"A prerequisite for a blue flag application is an 'excellent' result and these beaches did not quite reach the highest standard possible on the day of testing."

In Norfolk, Cromer, Sea Palling, Sheringham, Mundesley, East Runton and West Runton earned blue flags while Dovercourt Bay and Brightlingsea beaches made the grade in north Essex.

The Environment Agency said: "Southwold the Pier beach has been classified as 'excellent in previous years but in 2018 the bathing water deteriorated to 'good'.

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"During each of the bathing water seasons in 2017 and 2018, there was one extremely high E-coli result.

"It is possible that marine algae is the source of the bacteria. We will be carrying out further investigations and sampling during the 2019 season.

"We continue to work with councils, water companies, farmers, local businesses and communities to maintain and improve water quality at bathing beaches.

"Lowestoft South beach was classified as 'excellent' in 2015 and dropped to 'good' in 2016 and has retained that status for the last two years.

"Ongoing investigations have been taking place and it appears there is potential discharge from the sewage system, coming from the harbour area.

"Anglian Water are leading the investigations into this and will be working to remedy the situation.

"Both beaches remain safe for swimmers."

An Anglian Water spokesperson said: "Treated effluent from our Lowestoft Water Recycling Centre does not enter the bathing area at Lowestoft South Beach. The storm overflow in the harbour that is there to prevent flooding in Lowestoft during heavy rainfall can influence water quality in this area, however our investigations have shown that some of the rare drops in water quality recorded at Lowestoft were during dry periods when these outfalls weren't active. They coincide with reports of high levels of sediment in the bathing water, possibly linked to marine algae during the warmer summer months. We are working with the Environment Agency to investigate this further.

"However, as the Environment Agency have said the beach is still safe for swimming and meets the 'Good' standard and has received a Seaside Award this year."

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