SURFERS BACK FROM LUXEMBOURG DEMO FOLLOWING ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS COUNCIL MEETING
SAS campaigners are back in Cornwall after a demo at an Environment Ministers Council meeting in Luxembourg this week. We were there to challenge Ministers to improve the health protection of ‘recreational water users’ from polluted water as new bathing water legislation was discussed.
Prior to the meeting SAS gave a surfboard to the Irish Environment Ministry (who have had the Presidency of Europe) covered in photos of SAS supporters using seas, lakes and rivers across the EU to highlight the booming popularity of water sports. The photo appeal saw SAS inundated with hundreds of images and was used to good effect in effectively becoming a surfboard photo petition.
Environment Ministers did agree on a way forward but the issue of protecting the health of recreational water users, such as surfers, windsurfers and divers was weakened in favour of tightening water quality standards. Though this would be a significant improvement on the current system SAS believes a new Bathing Water Directive should also include a new definition to recognise recreational use of bathing water.
SAS are disappointed that Europe’s Environment Ministers have failed to embrace the European Parliament’s view that ‘recreational water users’ should receive the same protection from polluted water as everyday bathers. We will continue to push for such recognition in the ongoing discussions over these new laws in the European Parliament and at forthcoming Environment Ministers Council meetings.
The Environment Council’s agreement will now go back to the European Parliament for further discussion and possible amendment.
Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: “We are disappointed at the ongoing failure of Environment Ministers to provide ‘recreational water users’ with better health protection but remain heartened by the European Parliament’s current provision to provide them with that recognition. The Directive is still far from settled and SAS will redouble our efforts to ensure Europe’s law makers do not ignore our plight as in doing so they would effectively be discriminating against our use of bathing water”.