SHIELDS’ Sandhaven beach is set to retain its title as one of the North East’s finest despite the introduction of tough new standards.
The new European standards will be twice as tough to pass and the Environment Agency is urging water companies, businesses, farmers, local authorities and householders to do everything possible to improve bathing water quality.
Hundreds of families flock to our glorious beaches every year and they are consistently rated amongst the best in the country.Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety
Agency staff will be out and about testing water quality throughout the summer, with the results made available through a new Bathing Water Explorer website.
On their past records, 18 beaches in the North East are expected to be classed “excellent”, including South Shields. Marsden is expected to retain its “good” rating.
Environment Agency manager Julie Brooker, said: “This is an excellent result for the North East.
“The Environment Agency has worked hard with local councils, land owners and Northumbrian Water to improve the quality of the bathing water.
“To have over half our beaches classed ‘excellent’ against the new tougher standards prove that the hard work is paying off.”
The other classifications available are “good”, “sufficient” and “poor”.
The Environment Agency and Northumberland Water have been working together on a number of projects to overcome these factors, including a major scheme at Saltburn.
Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for area management and community safety, said: “We are extremely proud of our award-winning seafront.
“Hundreds of families flock to our glorious beaches every year and they are consistently rated amongst the best in the country.
“We are delighted Sandhaven is on course to be rated excellent for bathing-water quality, especially as tough new standards come into force.
“Marsden is a hidden gem, where visitors can explore the smugglers caves and rock pools. It’s wonderful that this beautiful bay has also been recognised.
“This news will support our efforts to promote the borough as a traditional tourist attraction, reassuring visitors that they can enjoy a safe trip to the seaside this summer where the water is amongst the cleanest – perfect for a paddle.”
Many factors can influence the bathing water results, these include run off from agricultural land and misconnections that lead to sewage mistakenly ending in the sea.
From this year, there will be a revised Bathing Water Directive. Details can be viewed on this website.
The annual results for 2015 will use the revised Bathing Water Directive for the first time and will be announced by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs at the end of the year.
Annual results produced under the new directive will use a combined average of four years’ worth of tests.
Samples have been tested using both sets of standards since 2012.