New rules could pose risk to ‘excellent’ water

Boxing Day revellers enter the water at Spittal beach

Boxing Day revellers enter the water at Spittal beach

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Spittal beach has won a reprieve after a marine charity found its bathing water to be ‘excellent’ following the driest summer since 2003.

But new EU rules set to come in next year could see the beach ‘blacklisted’ with guidelines set to become twice as stringent.

Last year Spittal failed to meet the mandatory bathing water standard required by the Marine Conservation Society, after heavy rains and flooding throughout 2012 saw drains overflow and surface pollution from roads and farmland wash into the sea.

However there have been no failures at all in the North East this time round, with all of Northumberland’s beaches receiving the Marine Conservation Charity’s top water quality award after the latest round of tests.

Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses North and Beadnell, as well as Spittal, have all been recommended for their excellent water quality in this year’s Good Beach Guide (, which was launched by the Marine Conservation Society (MSC) on Tuesday.

MCS coastal pollution officer, Rachel Wyatt, says she hopes the latest figures will be a boost to tourism in the area after several previously wet summers led to a drop in bathing water quality.

“It’s great news that we are able to recommend more beaches than ever for excellent water quality and it shows just how good British beaches can be,” Rachel said.

“The main challenge now is maintaining these standards, whatever the weather.

“Most people don’t realise what a big impact the weather can have on bathing water quality, but this has really been highlighted in the last few years.”

Spittal can now boast ‘excellent water for the 2014 holiday season. But it could be a different story next year.

By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all designated bathing waters must meet the new minimum ‘Sufficient’ standard due to the revised EU Bathing Water Directive. This will be around twice as stringent as the current minimum standard and means that some beaches will need to do more to make the grade in the future.

Despite being deemed to have ‘excellent’ water under the existing rules, Spittal is in the top 10 ‘at risk’ of being on an EU ‘blacklist’ when the new regulations come in next year.

Beaches which don’t meet the ‘Sufficient’ standard at the end of 2015 will have to display signs warning against bathing in the sea from the start of the bathing season in 2016.

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