Pressure mounts to clean up seawater

Blackpool Central Beach
Blackpool Central Beach
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A BAN on swimming in Blackpool has moved a step closer – prompting a pollution expert to step up his campaign to raise awareness of the threat to the resort.

Blackpool Central beach bathing water was slammed as a failure by the Good Beach Guide earlier this year – and it has already failed one of its inspections this year.

The result could spell bad news for the holiday hot-spot which needs to pass its inspections over the next five years to prevent swimming being banned under new European guidelines.

And now Dr Robert Kierle is appealing to Blackpool Council to take the problem more seriously.

The Good Beach Guide’s pollution programme manager said: “Of Blackpool’s three bathing waters – South, Central and North – one of these, Central, will fail to meet the new standards.

“It’s important to note that if a bathing water fails for five consecutive years, by law a sign has to be erected prohibiting bathing.

“As you can imagine, this could have a significant impact on Blackpool’s economy, heavily dependent as it is on revenue from tourists, if improvements aren’t made.

The UK’s 35-year-old Bathing Water Directive is currently being replaced by the more stringent new laws and, according to the Environment Agency, Blackpool Central, St Annes and St Annes North will all fail to meet the new standards if no action is taken between now and 2015.

The cleanliness of the sea water is tested regularly by the Environment Agency and one failure a year is enough for the beach to fall below the required standards for the Good Beach Guide, though it takes two to fail the current Environment Agency requirements.

Although St Annes and St Annes North have so far passed all of this year’s tests, Blackpool Central failed on June 29.

Dr Keirle has offered his help to Blackpool Council to rectify the problem, but so far he has received no reply.

However, the Environment Agency said it was working to understand why the sample failed, and a spokeswoman said: “One sample from Blackpool Central has not met the minimum standard for bathing water quality outlined by the current European Bathing Water Directive. Any location that fails twice or more in one year does not meet the directive. This means Blackpool has not failed current standards.

“We are currently investigating possible causes of this failure and are expecting DNA test results back soon which will hopefully establish the source of this pollution.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman added: “A lot of work has been done to improve the quality of our bathing water and we have already made great progress.

“We never stop looking for ways to improve our sea water and we continue to work with United Utilities as part of the Fylde Peninsula Water Management Group.

“One of the purposes of this group is to make sure that our bathing water passes the standard in 2015 and can be part of a prime coastal tourist resort.”