Bathing joy as coast passes water testing

Blackpool Tower / VIEW  / EMPTY BEACH /
Blackpool Tower / VIEW / EMPTY BEACH /
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The Fylde coast’s bathing water has been given a clean bill of health after it met stricter safety guidelines.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) figures showed Fleetwood, St Annes, Blackpool South, Blackpool Central, Blackpool North, and Cleveleys met mandatory standards – with St Annes North and Bispham meeting recommended standards.

Fleetwood and St Annes both failed tests last year.

The news is a big boost ahead of new European Union directives introduced next year which could see failing areas blacklisted, with signs put up on beaches advising bathers from going in the sea from 2016.

Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for sea water quality, said: “Today’s announcement is excellent news and I’m delighted that every bathing water in Blackpool has passed this year’s sampling.”

A dry summer and new storm water drainage systems near the Ribble and Wyre rivers have contributed to the pass ratings, which measure the level of E.coli bacteria per 100ml of sea water.

At St Annes North and Bispham, 100 per cent of samples did not exceed 2,000 E.coli per 100ml, while in the six other areas, 95 per cent of samples did not exceed 2,000 E.coli per 100 ml.

The improved standards follow work carried out by The Turning Tides partnership, involving all three councils of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, along with the Environment Agency and United Utilities.

People clearing up dog mess and litter, as well as reducing the amount of oils and fats poured down their drains has helped, while a dry summer has stopped waste on farmland from running-off into rivers and the sea, which can have a negative effect on tests.

It is the first time all eight areas have passed the guidelines since 2005.

Coun Roger Berry, of Wyre Council, added: “If we carry on with these initiatives into the next bathing season and beyond, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t show continued improvements next year, too.”

Coun Tommy Threlfall, cabinet member for the environment at Fylde Council said: “We are delighted that both our beaches have passed. Residents, councillors and council officials have been patient waiting for new storm drainage tunnels to do their work.”