Where to find the best beaches

CONCERNS have been raised about levels of pollution following a survey which showed a decline in water quality at some of the region's beaches.

Simon Tomlinson

CONCERNS have been raised about levels of pollution following a survey which showed a decline in water quality at some of the region's beaches.

Three beaches in Suffolk and Essex have been downgraded in the Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Good Beach Guide.

West Mersea and Southwold's two beaches were relegated from recommended to a basic pass, while Groyne 41 at Clacton and Walton-on-the-Naze remained at a basic pass from the previous year.


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However, Jaywick and the Martello Tower beach at Clacton have improved to recommended.

Ten beaches - including Brightlingsea, Frinton-on-Sea, two at Felixstowe and three in Lowestoft - maintained their recommended status.

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The statistics are based on the latest bathing water tests, which were conducted by the Environment Agency between May to September 2008, when Britain experienced the seventh wettest summer on record.

Across the UK, the number of bathing beaches recommended for excellent water quality has dropped by more than 16% compared to last year.

The Environment Agency said it has made the issue a priority.

A spokesman said: “The Environment Agency has been working with the water and sewerage companies in the Anglian region to identify the highest sources of pollution from sewage overflows and together have acted to tackle them.”

The data has also worried the MCS, which is calling for better practices, including new farming techniques and bigger sewage systems.

Thomas Bell, MCS coastal pollution officer, said: “We're becoming concerned that the existing infrastructure for handling storm pollution may not be up to the job.

“We advise people to do three things - pick bathing beaches with a good water quality record, stay out of the sea for at least 24 hours after heavy storms and report pollution problems to us via the Good Beach Guide website.”

In total, 370 (47.5%) of UK beaches are 'MCS Recommended' this year out of 777 tested, compared to 444 last year.

Beaches failing the minimum legal standard jumped almost 50% from 53 to 78, although there were none in Essex and Suffolk.

It is the biggest year-on-year fall in the guide's 22-year history and the first time since 2002 that MCS has recommended less than half of Britain's bathing beaches.

Visit www.goodbeachguide.co.uk for the full report.

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