DEFRA have published their annual bathing water quality updates for 2023, and of Fylde’s two designated bathing waters, St Annes Beach remains at ‘sufficient’, while St Annes North Beach has been downgraded from ‘sufficient’ to ‘poor’.
Fylde Council await the results from the Environment Agency who are in the process of analysing data to determine the root cause of the deterioration and have been calling for action since this time last year when the first deterioration to ‘sufficient’ bathing waters at both beaches was announced. As part of the Council’s commitment to further understand and support agencies responsible for bathing water quality, the Council set up a Technical Group in January 2023 to review bathing water data and develop action plans to improve the classification and are reliant upon both the Environment Agency and United Utilities to action change.
Cllr Karen Buckley, Leader of Fylde Council, said: “I am hugely disappointed in the further deterioration in bathing water quality at St Annes North. Samples are taken throughout the bathing season which measure pollution from numerous sources (dogs, cattle, pigs, sheep, seabirds, sewage) but we are still awaiting the breakdown analysis from the Environment Agency and a plan of action. We are also calling upon United Utilities to reduce the amount of storm overflows which occur following heavy rainfall and impact our bathing waters and want to see investment in Fylde to tackle this unacceptable cause of pollution in our rivers and seas.
“Fylde’s beaches are some of our most valued and beloved amenities, attracting visitors from around the world, and as a council and a community, we strive to keep them clean, safe, and welcoming. We have a wonderful community of volunteers who litter pick our beaches all year round and our Fylde Rangers take care of the dunes and the beach and offer fantastic educational activities.
“We have been calling upon those responsible to do more and will continue to work closely with the Turning Tides Partnership, the Environment Agency, and United Utilities to identify the causes of the deterioration and the means to address it until the bathing water quality improves.”
Cllr Tommy Threlfall, Lead Member for Environment, said: “The reclassification of one of Fylde’s beaches from ‘sufficient’ to ‘poor’ is devastating, and our next step will be coordinating with partners to explore the many complex factors that can influence bathing water quality.
“We are eager to receive the detailed DNA analysis from the Environment Agency to help identify the main areas of concern.
“Furthermore, the Technical Group have identified several river tributaries across the 750sqm catchment area of the Ribble showing particularly high readings. United Utilities will begin obtaining samples where necessary to identify the sources of pollution through a process of elimination.
“United Utilities have made a commitment to make improvements to the local infrastructure that will support improved water quality.”
“Fylde Council remains resolute and will continue to apply pressure on partners responsible for water quality, whilst supporting solutions that will improve bathing waters across the Fylde Coast and beyond.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The long-term trend for bathing water quality in the North West remains positive this year with 93% achieving the minimum standard of sufficient.
“Water samples taken by the Environment Agency throughout the bathing water season provide vital evidence into how the bathing waters are affected by different pollution sources. Wet weather conditions towards the end of the season have impacted this year’s results due to the effects of land runoff and storm overflows alongside other complex factors such as local development and environmental changes.
“There is still much more to be done to ensure cleaner and healthier waters for people to enjoy and action plans are in place for poor and sufficient waters to work with partners to investigate the problems they are facing.
“We are disappointed to see deteriorations in some bathing waters along the Fylde Coast in the 2023 results and this makes us even more committed to working with key partners to improve water quality at these important tourist destinations.”
For more information about Fylde Council’s designated bathing waters, including their current classifications, please visit the Fylde Council website: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/resident/leisure/leisure/beaches/
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