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Praise for region's beaches

PUBLISHED: 11:11 23 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:27 05 July 2010

Beaches across Norfolk and Suffolk slightly improved their cleanliness in the last year, bucking a national trend which saw heavy rain last summer lead to a record drop in the number of UK beaches receiving top ratings for water quality.

Beaches across Norfolk and Suffolk slightly improved their cleanliness in the last year, bucking a national trend which saw heavy rain last summer lead to a record drop in the number of UK beaches receiving top ratings for water quality.

The Marine Conservation Society will today publish its Good Beach Guide 2008, which gives a good indication of how clean the water is at beaches around the country.

Of the 19 beaches tested across the area, 14 scored the highest standard of 'recommended', while the other five came in with a 'basic pass', which means they reach a European minimum standard.

Those same 19 beaches tested a year before scored 13 'recommended' and six 'basic pass'.

The national picture is very different, with a 10pc fall in the number of bathing spots recommended for excellent water quality because of pollution washed down by heavy rains.

The fall is the biggest year-on-year drop in numbers receiving the top rating in the guide's 21-year history.

The society has blamed the lower water quality on sewage, street debris and animal waste swept down to the sea by the storms last summer, as the latest guide is based on measurements taken between May and September 2007.

It has warned that climate change is predicted to bring a growing number of severe summer storms that could increase pollution around the UK's coasts.

Thomas Bell, the society's coastal pollution officer, said: “We are pinning the blame squarely on last summer's exceptionally bad weather.

“Not all beaches are affected but the problem for swimmers is knowing when and where this has happened.”

Mr Bell said poor-quality bathing water carried health risks: “If this summer is wet, I'd advise people to use the Good Beach Guide, pick bathing beaches with a good record, and stay out of the sea for at least 24 hours after heavy storms.”

Hilary Nelson, North Norfolk District Council's cabinet member for tourism, said the results in the district were good news other than at Sheringham.

“But we know that was down to the weather, so we hope to be back up again next year,” added Mrs Nelson.

Waveney District Council's tourism boss Asa Morrison said: “We are really pleased that our beaches are seen in such a good light. The Marine Conservation Society is completely independent and it is always nice to be praised by an organisation which is looking at it from an external perspective.”

Well-known beaches which fell off the recommended list this year include surfing hotspots Croyde and Saunton Sands in North Devon.

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