Clean water campaigners Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have been left
disappointed by an unambitious European Parliament vote on the future of
Europe’s beaches today.

Despite presenting 10,000 signatures with Surfrider Europe to the EU
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to better protect the health of
Europe’s recreational water users, the Parliament voted against supporting
new amendments that would have protected them under Europe’s Bathing Water

In addition the Parliament backed down on its own Environment Committee’s
guidance to strengthen water quality standards. Instead they allowed for a
new ‘sufficient’ category to be added to the Directive, which allows beaches
to pass the already 30 year old and out-of-date health standards relating to
bathing water quality.

In a complete u-turn from its original vote in October 2003 the Parliament
has overwhelmingly failed to modernise this Directive and discriminates
against the new ‘bathers’ of the day – surfers, windsurfers, kayakers,
divers and dinghy sailors in not protecting them when they use bathing water
for recreation. Studies have already shown that recreational water users
like surfers are 3 times more at risk of contracting certain water borne
infections from polluted water than the general public.

In allowing beaches that would otherwise fail World Health Organisation
health recommended standards to pass EU standards by way of a new
‘sufficient’ classification leaves the public still at risk.

Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: “Today’s vote has failed to
protect those bathers most at risk from polluted water such as surfers and
still allows 1 in every 8 bathing waters across the EU to run health risks.
SAS will now lobby the European Commission for a new Directive that protects
recreational water uses across the EU”.

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