Famous UK holiday spots including Blackpool beach hit by avalanche of raw sewage over Easter weekend

Some of the most beloved coastal destinations in the country have been deemed unsafe for holiday makers, beachgoers, and wild swimmers this Easter.
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The Environment Agency has warned that the public should avoid swimming in 22 tourist hotspots due to dangerous levels of bacterial concentrations in the water, which could cause severe ill health. The warnings include famous beaches in Blackpool, Ilfracombe, and Weston-super-Mare. 

This comes as new Environment Agency data released this week has found that last year was the worst for sewage spills since records began. Sewage was discharged for an eye watering record 4 million hours across England in 2023. The number of sewage discharges has skyrocketed by 58% from 301,091 sewage spills in 2022 to over 477,000 in 2023.

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“The Conservative Government has turned a blind eye to illegal sewage dumping that is polluting Britain’s most famous tourist hotspots,” said Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed MP.  “To make matters worse, consumers are facing higher bills while water bosses pocket millions in bonuses. 

“Labour will put the water companies under special measures,” he added. “We will strengthen regulation so law-breaking water bosses face criminal charges, and we’ll give the regulator new powers to block the payment of bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their toxic filth. With Labour, the polluter - not the public - will pay.”

Last year, a group of wild swimmers in Cleveleys told the Gazette: “We can’t plan from one day to the next, because we just don’t know whether it's going to be safe or not. We’re getting a lot of conflicting advice from different organisations, so the YMCA who commission the lifeguards, the environment agency, the council… depending who you speak to you can get completely different information about whether or not it's safe to swim.”

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The latest figures show that the number of bathing waters in England receiving a classification of ‘poor’ are at their highest since 2015, with an investigation by the i newspaper having revealed that water companies were dumping sewage in Britain’s most famous landscapes and national parks, including the Lake District and New Forest.

A spokesperson for United Utilities said: “We have invested £1.5 billion into our wastewater systems along the North West coast over the past 30 years. We are now treating more wastewater than ever before to the highest ever standards.

“We will continue to work with the Turning Tides partnership and collectively we are keen to see a detailed investigation to understand why some North West bathing waters have deteriorated this year, so that all sources of pollution can be identified and tackled. For our part we will progress with our ongoing investment programme which includes £485 million to continue to improve wastewater infrastructure near the region’s bathing waters.”

For live water conditions, head to the Advice Against Bathing website at https://environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles/ .

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