Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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England’s bathing waters best on record

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Environment Agency

New statistics on bathing water quality reveal England's favourite swimming spots are the cleanest they've been since records began.

Millions of visitors to England’s stunning seaside and bathing spots will be able to enjoy swimming in cleaner water than ever before, thanks to massive improvements made over the past two decades.

Bathing water quality, tested at 413 beaches and lakes up and down the country, is the best on record and 98.5 per cent passed tough standards this year.

Huge strides have been made to improve water quality, helping to make our beaches even more attractive for the increasing numbers of tourists who visit from around the world.

Just 28 per cent of bathing waters met the top water quality standards in the early 1990s; now 93.2 per cent are rated excellent and good.

The number of bathing waters rated ‘excellent’ has increased by 5.9 percentage points since 2015, and five bathing waters have met at least the minimum standards for the first time.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:

England’s bathing waters are enjoyed by millions of people every year, which is why I am delighted the water quality at our beaches and lakes is better than at any time since before the Industrial Revolution.

This year more than 93 per cent of bathing waters were rated excellent and good, but we’re not complacent – we’ll keep working to improve our environment and make sure it’s protected for future generations.

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:

Water quality at beaches has improved again this year, 98.5 per cent passed the standards and 69.5 per cent met 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 our Bathing Water Data Explorer website.

The seaside economy is worth more than £3.6 billion annually and 146 million people flock to Britain’s beaches every year to appreciate the stunning natural landscape and world class facilities.

And staycations are growing in appeal, with almost 14 million people in England choosing to holiday at a beach here in 2015 - up 7 per cent on the previous year.

These visitors expect our bathing waters to meet strict standards and thanks to work by the Government, water companies and local authorities, the overwhelming majority now do.

 

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