Beaches lose their top ratings in latest guide

BEACHES along Bognor Regis seafront are no longer recommended in an annual guide to the UK’s shoreline.

The busiest stretch of coastline between the pier and Butlin’s, as well as to the west of the pier and Felpham, were all downgraded in the latest edition of the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide.

Their 2013 rating is ‘mandatory’ – the minimum to meet European standards. The lower status reflects the loss of the town’s Blue Flag last year after the wet summer took its toll on seawater quality.

The pattern was repeated around the country to lead the society’s coastal pollution officer, Rachel Wyatt, to warn: “Action must be taken now. With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden beaches could be at serious risk. There is no simple solution to sewage and animal waste reaching our seas. However, if the water industry, communities and local authorities recognise there is a problem and begin to work together to find answers then that would be a significant start.”

The relentless rain and flooding last summer led to an increase in bacteria and viruses in the bathing water. This mainly came from the overflow from gutters and storm drains. Pagham and Middleton kept their recommended status in the current guide.