Good news for the UK coastal waters...

Coastal water quality results were announced today for the 2001 UK bathing

season [1] by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

[2] and the results are the best ever achieved. The Marine Conservation Society

(MCS) [3] is delighted that after many years of campaigning for cleaner bathing

waters the future appears brighter for our coast.

There has been a huge increase in the number of designated bathing waters achieving

the higher EC Guideline standard [4] – from in 256 (47%) 2000 to a total

of 314 (57.5%) in 2001 - in the UK. However a third of beaches (232) do not

reach the Guideline standard, which MCS say must be achieved to protect public

health. A record number have passed the minimum EC Mandatory standard [5] in

2001 - 522 (96%) compared to 514 (94%) for the previous year, and 26 (4.8%)

failed the Mandatory standard.

"The Marine Conservation Society welcomes the improvements in bathing

water quality and applauds all the organisations involved that have helped deliver

these results. But now comes the harder task of ensuring that all sources of

bacterial pollution are tackled, including continuous and intermittent sewage

and storm discharges, and diffuse pollution" said Kate Hutchinson,

MCS Coastal Pollution Officer. "The UK should now be aiming for all

beaches to consistently reach the Guideline standard to adequately protect public

health."

It is hoped that by the end of the investment period in 2005, and with the

additional investigations by the Government Agencies in the UK into diffuse

sources of bacterial pollution [6] these figures will improve even further.

MCS believes that a greater emphasis must be placed on regional and local initiatives

to involve all stakeholders, to inform them of bacterial pollution sources and

transport processes which can affect bathing water quality. MCS recommends that

notices be displayed on beaches when they fail minimum standards and is calling

for greater provision of public information. Greater understanding of the problem

will lead to greater co-operation and better beaches for safe bathing!

Marine Conservation Society, 9 Gloucester Road, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

HR9 5BU

Tel: 01989 566017 Fax: 01989 567815 Mobile: 07929 972585

Good Beach Guide Home Page: www.goodbeachguide.co.uk

MCS Home Page: www.mcsuk.org