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English beaches not as clean as last year

English beaches have got dirtier as the extremely wet summer caused cleanliness levels to drop.

The latest water quality tests found that 93% of England’s coastal sites reached the mandatory clean water standards, compared to 98% last year. This year’s summer was the second wettest in the UK since records began, according to the Met Office.

Heavy rainfall, washing pollution from urban areas and the countryside into rivers and onwards to the sea has made British beaches dirtier. A survey conducted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that 20 costal sites in England failed to reach the minimum requirement in comparison to the nine sites that weren’t up to scratch last year.

The water quality figures illustrate another setback for English beaches. Just 59% of costal sites in England made the grade this year, compared to 79% in 2011. Standards fell across the UK as a whole with the number meeting guideline standards dropping from 77% to 60% in the last 12 months. Those achieving the minimum grade fell from 98% in 2011 to 94% this year.

Richard Benyon, the Environment Minister, said: “While the majority of England's bathing waters continue to be of good quality, I am disappointed that a number have fallen short of the tighter standard due to the heavy rainfall we experienced during the summer. “It is crucial that we continue to work with the Environment Agency, water companies and stakeholders to continue to address the effect that pollution is having on bathing water quality in some areas.”

Only 2% of beaches in Wales were found to be dirtier than last year, and Scottish beaches were cleaner with 99% making the mandatory grade up from 95% last year. If you plan on heading overseas to enjoy cleaner or even just warmer beaches, it would be advisable to take out travel insurance.

Date Created: 12 November 2012

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