With only a month to go until European Election Day some of the South West's election candidates have today supported a Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaign for a new Bathing Water Directive by making a Clean and Safe Water Pledge.
At Perranporth Beach (Droskyn end) Labour MEP Glyn Ford and Emily McIvor Green Party Number 2 candidate donned wetsuits and surfboards to pledge their support for the 'Clean and Safe Water' campaign. Standing in the shorebreak the candidates marked 'X's on giant ballot slips prior to having a short surfing lesson by SAS and local surf school Freeride.
The candidates have given their support to a radical revision of the EU Bathing Water Directive - the key piece of legislation that governs our bathing beaches and sets water quality standards. SAS has been campaigning for the Directive's Revision since its early campaigning days and significant progress has been made over the last year following a vote in the European Parliament. Further progress of the Directive has however has been stalled by the recent EU enlargement and these Elections but it should continue its passage through EU legislature during the second half of the year, when the new MEP's will be in place.
SAS has made 'bathing water' a European Election issue as the current Directive is 27 years old and fails to protect the health of bathers or recreational water users. The water quality standards are set too low; it only recognises bathers and fails to protect other user groups such as surfers, windsurfers and divers. It also falls short in providing the public with up to date and easily understood information about bathing waters around the country and where the dangers may lie.
Richard Hardy, SAS Campaigns Director says: "The current Bathing Water Directive fails to protect the health of all water users in its inability to meet tougher water quality standards, protect all groups using the water and give the public real time information. We're delighted prospective MEP's have pledged their support in changing the legislation and call on voters to get behind those candidates/party's prepared to make the pledge".
Notes to Editors: SAS wrote to all prospective parliamentary candidates in the South West asking them to support the Clean and Safe Water Pledge. The Pledge called for the following improvements:
* One water quality standard that best reduces the risk of public contact with polluted water and which must be used in conjunction with practical management action.
* A meaningful recognition of 'recreational water users' which will safeguard their health as well as that of traditional bathers.
* A recognition that public health should be protected all year round and not just in the traditional bathing season in light of the fact that cheaper and better wetsuits now allow for recreational water use at any time of the year.
* Real time public information, which can be accessed without going to a beach, lake or river. In addition more comprehensive information should be provided in the form of on site maps at designated waters highlighting potential sources of pollution, permanent signs that mark untreated sewage overflows and temporary signs that are used specifically when a pollution incident occurs.
In addition to Glyn Ford and Emily McIcvor the following candidates have pledged their unequivocal support:
Bernadette Hartley (Labour), Ian White (Labour), David Taylor (Green) Anthony Welch (Liberal Democrats) and Alistair Cameron (Liberal Democrats)
Caroline Jackson (Con), Richard Graham (Con) and Neil Parish (Con) and Giles Chichester (Con) have given their support in principle to the pledge.