Northumberland coastline 'excellent' for water quality

Bamburgh beach. Picture by Jane Coltman
Bamburgh beach. Picture by Jane Coltman

Beaches in north Northumberland are top notch when it comes to bathing water.

Eight beaches in the area have achieved excellent water quality status, Defra announced today.

They are Bamburgh Castle; Seahouses North; Beadnell; Low Newton; Warkworth; Amble Links; Druridge Bay North; and Druridge Bay South.

Thirty-three of the region’s 34 bathing waters have either an excellent or good water quality status, with every one of the North East’s coastal sites passing the European standards.

Twenty-seven of the region's bathing waters have met the excellent standard, six are classified as good, one as sufficient and none as poor. This compares with 19 excellent, 11 good, three sufficient and one poor in 2015.

Others classified a excellent are Newbiggin North; Newbiggin South; Blyth South; Seaton Sluice; Whitley Bay; Tynemouth Longsands North; Tynemouth Longsands South; Tynemouth King Edwards Bay; South Shields; Seaburn (Whitburn North); Roker (Whitburn South); Seaham, Crimdon; Seaton Carew (Centre); Seaton Carew (North Gare); Redcar Lifeboat Station; Redcar Stray; Marske Sands; and Saltburn.

Those that have achieved the good standard are Tynemouth Cullercoats; Marsden; Seaham Hall; Seaton Carew (North); Redcar Coatham; and Redcar Granville.

Spittal is now rated as sufficient, rising from poor.

Samples are taken by the Environment Agency between May and September each year to assess the bathing waters against strict regulations.

Despite the increase from 30 in 2015, Northumbrian Water, which has invested £1billion over 20 years in enhancing the quality of water on the region’s coastline, says the results do not mean there is cause for complacency.

Wastewater director Richard Warneford said: “Our two decades of investment has yielded significant benefits, and we are confident that by maintaining focus upon the North East coastline we can continue to drive improvements and make the region’s coast a beacon for excellent bathing water.

“Investment in areas such as Seaham and Seaham Hall, where we have implemented improved storm water storage facilities, and Saltburn, with a £1.5m system upgrade, has paid off and this is reflected in today’s results, with Seaham and Seaham Hall moving from both being good to excellent and good, respectively, and Saltburn rising from good to excellent.

“All of this work helps to make our region’s beaches a fantastic place to visit, with high quality bathing water that adds to the experience of a day on the North East coast.

“There is more work like this to be done and we refuse to take today’s excellent results as an excuse to be complacent. Great bathing water relies on constant attention to detail and a willingness to continue looking for new ways to protect and improve our environment.

“Back in 2000, only four North East bathing waters achieved the standards that were in place at the time, so today shows a massive improvement that we and all of our partners can be proud of. We place the environment at the heart of what we do and are extremely proud of the investment and partnership working that we carry out to make our beaches a great place to visit.

“Taking into consideration factors that our outside of our control, including areas where there is a larger than normal volumes of bird waste, and the suspected offshore dumping of rubbish from ships, we feel very proud that 33 of our region’s bathing waters have achieved excellent or good standards.”

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “Water quality at beaches has improved again this year, with 27 in the North East meeting the highest rating of excellent.

“The Environment Agency has led successful work to protect people, tourism and the environment. We will continue to ensure bathing waters are maintained and improved further, so we need partners and the public to work with us to reduce pollution.

“We encourage all beach-goers to check water quality advice; this is available at every bathing beach and on the Bathing WaterData Explorer website.”

Northumbrian Water is encouraging its customers to also help to look after the region’s bathing waters by only flushing toilet paper, pee and poo down the loo and by not putting grease and fat down drains. This will help to prevent blockages and potential pollution.