Resort turning the tide in seawater battle

An Environment Agency employee takes water samples off Blackpool beach.
An Environment Agency employee takes water samples off Blackpool beach.

Blackpool is winning the battle to clean up its coastline after the resort passed bathing water quality tests for all four beaches this year.

Blackpool North, South, Central and Bispham beaches have all met European water quality standards for 2013.

But St Annes and Fleetwood beaches were among just five nationally which failed tests.

It is the first time since 2005 all four of Blackpool’s beaches have passed, although testing was suspended during work to rebuild the Promenade.

The results are vital if the resort is to avoid banning bathers from entering the sea when even stricter water quality standards are introduced in 2015.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for urban regeneration on Blackpool Council, said: “We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and it’s a huge testament to all our hard work, as well as a brilliant showcase of the partnership work taking place across the Fylde coast to help bring our bathing waters up to scratch.

“Everyone can help too with simple actions such as taking part in a local beach clean, picking up after your dog and remembering not to pour fat down the sink. We can all help improve our bathing waters.”

Last year Blackpool North and South beaches failed the tests.

Jenn Newton, general manager of Blackpool Sea Life Centre and a member of Love My Beach, said: “The primary reason people visit Blackpool is to go to the beach so it is critical we meet the standards for bathing water quality.

“We have a beautiful beach and we want local people to take ownership and feel proud of it, and we want tourists to be aware too so they don’t treat it as a litter bin.”

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “The beach is what Blackpool is about and knowing it is safe and the water is clean impacts on everything.

“Hoteliers are playing their part with packs advising guests what they can and can’t put down the loo, and we have the beach cleaning groups, and today’s news is proof we are doing the right thing.”

The figures, which were released be DEFRA at the Cleaner Seas Forum in London yesterday, also revealed 99 per cent of England’s bathing waters met European water quality standards in 2013, up from 93 per cent the previous year.

Coun Tommy Threlfall, Fylde Council cabinet member for environment, blamed heavy rain for St Annes’ failure.

He added: “The main St Annes beach passed 18 times but failed twice due to very heavy rain the day before the samples were taken. Rain,of course, washes sheep faeces from the Ribble catchment area into the estuary and that appears to have caused the fails.

“We accept it isn’t good enough and are working with the Environment Agency, United Utilities, neighbouring councils and other organisations to keep water quality improving.”

Four beaches in total in the North West failed the tests.

Neil Jack, chairman of Turning Tides, a partnership covering the whole region, said: “We know how people love to come to the seaside in the North West and we are proud our hard work has led to more bathing waters complying with tough European standards.”

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