Beaches pass with flying colours

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Atlantic waves reaching the beach at Sennen Cove

All Cornwall’s beaches have made the grade against tough bathing water quality standards, according to figures published by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs this week.

And it’s good news in Devon as well, where 95% of beaches have passed.

Of the 142 designated bathing waters assessed in Devon and Cornwall just three – Combe Martin, Instow and Ilfracombe (Wildersmouth) in Devon – have been rated as ‘poor’ under new standards introduced in 2015, which are twice as tough as in previous years.

Malcolm Bell, chairman of the BeachWise Forum for the South West and chief executive of Visit Cornwall, welcomed the results.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see all Cornwall’s beaches pass these tougher tests with flying colours for the second consecutive year, despite the wetter weather this summer, with Devon not far behind.

“Bathing waters are much cleaner and have continually improved since 1990 when just 27% met European water quality standards. This is thanks to massive efforts by Defra, the Environment Agency, water companies, councils, local communities, farmers and environmental organisations.

“This year is only the third time that the results have been reported against the new standards, and the second consecutive year that 100% of Cornwall’s beaches have made the grade.”

The new regulations classify bathing waters as excellent, good, sufficient or poor, based on the level of bacteria in the water as monitored by the Environment Agency between May and September. Up to four years of results from 2014 to 2017 are combined to indicate water cleanliness.

In accordance with the regulations, signs advising against bathing will be in place at the three ‘poor’ beaches in Devon when next year’s bathing season begins in May. The beaches will remain open for people to enjoy.

Bell added: “The beaches rated as poor are still open for people to enjoy but it’s really important that all the organisations and the local communities involved continue to play their part to improve and protect bathing water quality.”

To view the full list of bathing water ratings, click here.

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