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Bathing water quality in South West continues to improve: only two of our 144 beaches fail EU quality standards

Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Almost every beach in the South West has reached the European Union standard in bathing water quality, South West Water has announced today.

142 of the South West's 144 beaches passed the mandatory standards, a 2% increase on 2010, with 137 of those beaches reaching the highest standards set by the European Union, a 5% increase compared to last year.

The only two beaches that failed to meet the mandatory water standard were in Devon at Combe Martin and Ifracombe Capstone.

Remarkably, these results were an improvement on last year, when (only) 139 were classed as good - 130 of excellent standard.

The increase is due in part to South West Water having invested £2 billion over the past two decades in Operation Clean Sweep to close sewage outfalls and improve beach water quality across the region. At the start of the Operation, only 38 bathing waters consistently met the excellent standard.

South West MEP Julie Girling, who earlier this year launched a ‘Save Water, Save Money’ campaign, said: “this is excellent news for the South West and is indicative of the effort going in to make sure our water supply and beaches are safe."

"We have some of the best coastline in the UK, and it is important to have these standards in place to protect us and ensure there is minimal danger to human health from the sea (...) If beaches fail these tests then the South West would be ‘closed for business’ and that is the last thing we need!

Similarly Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson has hailed the 'fantastic' results for South West's beaches in the latest European water quality tests, praising in particular the results achieved in Cornwall.

Cornwall has some of the world's greatest beaches, from Looe to Fistral beach and from Hayle to Bude, with tourists and visitors from around the world enjoying the county's coastline each year,” he said.

Maintaining this standard is vital to ensure that the 23 and million visitors that come to Cornwall each year enjoy the best of what is on offer. It is now vital that the investment by South West Water continues to ensure that such a vital component of the Cornish economy flourishes.

Bathing water quality is monitored by the Environment Agency every year between 1st May and 30th September.

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