Southwold beach branded 'dirtiest' in the country

Seaside cottages and lighthouse at Southwold beach, UK. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Southwold's beach has been branded the dirtiest in England - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A beach in Southwold has been branded the dirtiest in the country.

The Denes beach at Southwold was ranked the worst beach in England for water quality, based on yearly tests carried out by the Government. investigated levels of faecal indicators (E. Coli (EC) and Intestinal Enterococci (IE)) in the ocean.

The most recent data was taken in 2019 as no samples were collected in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Samples for this year have already been taken but not yet released. 

The figures were analysed and then ranked with The Denes coming bottom overall in England and 539th out of 546 in the UK.  

David Beavan on Southwold seafront. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

David Beavan said that work was being done to improve the water - Credit: Archant

Southwold district and town councillor David Beavan said that work was being done to improve the water's condition, which was hampered by its location close to the estuary.

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"We are looking into it," said Mr Beavan. 

"It's better by the pier where people do bathe."

Indeed the data from the Environment Agency showed that concerns had been raised about the River Blyth being the source of "lower water quality" in the area. 

Mr Beavan said there were steps being taken by a number of agencies, all with the aim of improving water quality including Anglian Water and local businesses. 

"It is in hand," said Mr Beavan. 

"I would go and swim in there."

Mr Beavan said that the water would not have been sampled since these steps were taken. 

"It was not done last summer," said Mr Beavan. 

"Any improvements we have made will not be reflected in the ranking."

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said:" The Environment Agency measures bathing water quality and Southwold Denes has returned a ‘sufficient’ rating for the past four years, meaning that they view this beach as safe for swimming.  

"They are the leading experts in this matter, recording and analysing data over a period of time, in a rigorous and consistent way, before assessing whether bathing water is of an acceptable standard. 

“Measurements can vary on a day-to-day basis, based on a number of factors. However, the EA has a clear and transparent mechanism for advising against bathing where their research indicates unacceptable water quality. At no stage has this been the case for Southwold Denes."

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Protecting our rivers, lakes and seas is a top priority for the Environment Agency. We regularly carry out our own monitoring on beaches and uses this data to classify waters in England.

"The most recent classification for The Southwold Denes water quality is that it is satisfactory. 

“Knowing more about water quality can help beachgoers decide when and where to go. We encourage everyone to make checking our bathing water quality website part of their routine before making a trip."