MCS GOOD BEACH GUIDE 2002 – Brightest Outlook for British Beaches
The Marine Conservation Society  (MCS) has reported the brightest outlook
ever for Britain’s bathing waters with the publication of the Good Beach Guide
2002 , this year supported by Cheltenham & Gloucester and the Crown Estate.
A total of 341 UK beaches have made the grade to be recommended in the Guide,
66 more than in 2001, and the largest annual increase ever. Even better news
is the decrease in the number failing the minimum EC standard  for bathing
water quality from 90 to 61 this year.
On-going improvements in sewage treatment and fine weather have contributed
to record improvements in every region of the UK, except for Northern Ireland.
In the North West a beach at Blackpool, where the Guide was launched, made the
MCS grade for the first time, along with 3 other recommended beaches in the
region. It is a great year too for the North East, which recorded the largest
regional increase in recommended beaches, and yet again record numbers were
reported in both the South East and South West. The Guide tells a similar story
for both Scotland and Wales, with increases in the number of recommended beaches,
although there are still a significant number failing the minimum EC water quality
standard in both regions. Northern Ireland took a step backward this year with
fewer recommended beaches and more failing the lowest EC standard for water
quality. The Marine Conservation Society believes work is needed to tackle all
sources of bacterial pollution to ensure that no beaches fail and more make
the grade for the MCS Good Beach Guide.
‘The Marine Conservation Society is really pleased with the improvement in
bathing water quality this year and the wide geographical range of beaches in
the MCS Good Beach Guide.’ said Kate Hutchinson, MCS Coastal Pollution Officer.
‘Particularly encouraging is the decrease in beaches that failed the EC minimum
standard for water quality. However there are still areas affected by bacterial
pollution from both sewage and diffuse sources  and the MCS Good Beach Guide
allows the public to make an informed choice about where and whether to bathe’.
795 beaches in the UK were monitored for bathing water quality by the relevant
authorities  between May and September in 2001. Nearly half of the beaches
are recommended – 341 (43%) – and met the stringent criteria for clean bathing
required by the Marine Conservation Society. MCS will only recommend beaches
in the Guide if they meet the highest Guideline European water quality standard
and are not affected by inadequately treated sewage. 61 (8%) beaches failed
to meet the minimum water quality standards, 29 less than the previous year,
and the lowest number ever.
MCS will be lobbying the European Commission and Parliament to ensure that
the proposal for a new Bathing Water Directive (BWD)  does not falter at
the last hurdle. The current proposals include a more stringent water quality
standard at a level based on current scientific knowledge that will protect
public health and a greater emphasis on provision of public information.
To protect public health in UK bathing waters, MCS believes that a comprehensive
strategy needs to be developed that tackles all sources of bacterial pollution,
including agricultural run-off and storm water overflows, as well as outfall
pipes. More public information is needed on beaches that fail the lowest standards
and the sewage improvement programme must continue to ensure that all UK beaches
achieve the higher water quality standards that should be introduced following
the revision of the BWD.
Every year the MCS Good Beach Guide is published as part of the MCS Campaign
for Clean Seas, produced this year in partnership with Cheltenham & Gloucester
 and the Crown Estate . By supporting the Good Beach Guide, Cheltenham
& Gloucester aims to help the British public enjoy the beautiful beaches
which are such a special part of our natural heritage. As a substantial owner
of marine land, sponsorship of the MCS Campaign for Clean Seas is part of the
Crown Estate’s commitment to the good stewardship of land in its care.
The MCS Good Beach Guide 2002 is available free by sending a A5 SAE (for 54p)
to MCS, and is also published on the internet at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk