Scarborough’s South Bay fails water quality test

Scarborough's South Bay
Scarborough's South Bay
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SCARBOROUGH’S South Bay was named today among six bathing spots that have failed to meet even minimum standards for water quality.

Despite the better weather putting beaches in a more favourable light this year, the bay is listed as “poor” by the Environment Agency, with a star rating of zero.

The resort’s North Bay is rated “excellent”, alongside other Yorkshire beaches including Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Sandsend, Runswick Bay and Cayton Bay.

However, Reighton, near Scarborough is rated only “sufficient” and Filey “good”, with two out of three stars.

The other UK beaches judged to be poor include Clacton, Walpole Bay, Margate, Instow and Ilfracombe in Devon, and Burnham Jetty North in Somerset.

A spokesman for the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership, which was formed in 2010 and comprises the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, North Yorkshire County Council, Scarborough Borough Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Welcome To Yorkshire, said all partners remain committed to improving water quality in the South Bay area.

The spokesman said: “Scarborough South Bay remains a great place to visit and we, as a partnership, encourage people to enjoy the facilities and activities it offers. While the bathing water quality at Scarborough South beach has been classified as ‘poor’ at the end of the 2016 season, the beach remains open for people to enjoy and all partners remain committed to improving water quality in the area.

“In 2013 Yorkshire Water invested £50million to make improvements to the sewerage and sewage treatment systems. The company completed a massive engineering project, including construction of a huge storm water tank and a state of the art ultraviolet treatment plant that was completed prior to the bathing water season in 2015. The bathing water quality began to show an improvement midway through that investment programme.

“This summer, an intensive sampling programme has been carried out by the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water to fully understand the impact and nature of the remaining pollution across the whole of Scarborough. We will be using DNA analysis to help identify pollution sources. These results will be assessed through the winter months.

“The Environment Agency has also worked with local businesses and the harbour to raise awareness about what everyone can do to contribute to help improve water quality at Scarborough South. Through the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership we will continue to look at ways to drive improvements to Yorkshire’s bathing water quality.

“The partnership remains committed to ensuring that Scarborough South Bay’s bathing water quality improves more over the coming years. Everyone has a part to play in protecting and improving our great bathing waters. People can help us by following some simple steps such as picking up after their dogs and not feeding seabirds.”

Nearly seven in 10 bathing spots overall met the “excellent” water quality standards set out in the European Union’s Bathing Water Directive, and 407 out of the 413 spots passed the minimum grade.

The figures, which look at results for water quality over the last four years, are an improvement on 2015, the first year of results under the new EU system, when 63.6 per cent of beaches met excellent standards.

This is partly due to improvements being made in infrastructure at or near bathing sites in recent years, which has helped reduce pollution and cut levels of harmful bacteria in swimming spots that can make people ill.

The weather is also a factor, with better conditions reducing the risk of overflows from sewers and storm drains and the amount of urban and agricultural pollutants washing down to the sea when there is heavy rainfall.

The 2015 results include the very wet summer of 2012, which saw water quality at bathing sites drop.

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% 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 the organisation had led successful work to protect people, tourism and the environment around England’s coasts.

“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,” he said.