Sun, sea and banned: 46 'health hazard' beaches warned to clean up or face bar on swimming

By Sean Poulter

Last updated at 10:31 AM on 26th May 2011

  • Comments (95)
  • Add to My Stories

  • Blackpool rated as worst beach in the UK

Forty-six beaches have been labelled potential health hazards in a list of shame which includes some of Britain’s best-known seaside locations.

No-swimming signs may have to be erected under European rules unless they are cleaned up.

Sewage discharged into the sea is generating dangerous levels of bacteria and viruses, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

Scroll down for the full list of beaches

Warning: Blackpool's beaches fared badly in the survey - but the town's council is adamant its bathing water is safe

Warning: Blackpool's beaches fared badly in the survey - but the town's council is adamant its bathing water is safe

The campaign group’s warning  will alarm tourist chiefs in the areas identified – which represent 6 per cent of the 758 beaches surveyed – because it will drive families  elsewhere. However, water quality around the coast is getting better generally. 


The number of beaches recommended for excellent bathing water – 461 – is at the third highest level in the 24 years of the MCS Good Beach Guide.

But improvements are failing to keep up with the fact that the benchmark of acceptable bathing water quality is being raised.

Top ten worst UK beaches


The MCS explained that EU rules from 2015 will require the health warning signs on dirty beaches.

A spokesman said: ‘Forty-six UK beaches have failed to meet even the basic standards set 35 years ago in European law.  These ... are a potential health hazard to beachgoers and could  see swimming banned on them after 2015.’

Monitoring for the new EU standards begins next year.

If a beach consistently fails to meet its standards between then and 2015, signs will advise bathers not to enter the water. Robert Keirle, MCS pollution programme manager, said there is particular concern about the amount of diluted sewage flowing into coastal waters from so-called combined sewer overflows. 

These act as emergency outlets for overloaded sewage systems during heavy rainfall. However, they can discharge at other times as well. Mr Keirle said there are 22,000 CSOs in the UK, but just a quarter are monitored.

‘MCS wants all pipes mapped and monitored, and for the public to be told ... when, and for how long, the sewage is flowing,’ he said.

‘Mapping costs relatively little yet it could make the difference between an enjoyable trip to  the beach or one that ends up  in hospital with ear, nose and throat infections or stomach upsets.’ 

Blackpool Council is adamant its water is safe, and said test results were affected by last year’s ‘promenade regeneration’ programme.

‘The water quality has improved significantly over the last ten years. Unfortunately the bar that we are measured against has also risen,’ a spokesman added. 


North West

Blackpool Central, Lancashire
Blackpool South, Lancashire
St. Annes North, Lancashire
St. Annes, Lancashire
Morecambe (Opposite West End Road), Lancashire
Heysham Sands, Lancashire
Heysham (Half Moon Bay), Lancashire
Thurstaston, Wirral
Harrington, Cumbria
Walney Island (Sandy Gap), Cumbria

North East

Staithes, North Yorkshire,
Saltburn, Redcar/Cleveland

South West

Looe East, Cornwall
Seaton, Cornwall
Seaton, Devon
Instow, Devon
Mothecombe (Meadowsfoot & Coastguards), Devon
Lyme Regis (Church Beach), Dorset


Aberdaron Beach, Gwynedd
Llanbedrog, Gwynedd
Aberdyfi, Gwynedd
Ynyslas - Northern Groyne (Sea), Ceredigion
Ynyslas - Twyni Bach (Estuary), Ceredigion
Llanon (Slipway), Ceredigion
Llanina, Ceredigion
New Quay (North Beach), Ceredigion
Pwllgwaelod, Pembrokeshire
Ogmore (West), Vale of Glamorgan
Barry (Watch House Bay), Vale of Glamorgan


Lower Largo, Fife
Earlsferry, Fife
St Andrews (East Sands), Fife
Lossiemouth, East Moray
Irvine - Gailes (New Town), North Ayrshire
Ayr (South), South Ayrshire
Heads of Ayr, South Ayrshire

Northern Ireland

Ballyholme Down
Newcastle Down
Cranfield Bay Down

Isle of Man

Port Lewaigue
Gansey Bay (Bay Ny Carrickey)
Port Grenaugh


Cobo Beach


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

I am not shocked about this, worked in the industry for years, All the Water firms go for is cheap and cheerful, keeping life expired plants running on a shoe string. Some have even stopped spending "The Midlands Mob". Oh Mr Ofwat, its cheaper to pay fines than to do the job right. And As for Disunited Futile-ities the, North West lot employ Software Engineers From India, who just about speak English. And cost about four times more to do the job, as its totally wrong, seen it, and its enough to make a cat laugh. Sack the management - honest - and get someone who us not a PR guru

Click to rate     Rating   8

Aaron, Lancashire- need anyone to carry your bags?!! please

Click to rate     Rating   1

some call it swimming others say you are just going through the motions. - Wills, Soton, 26/5/2011 6:27 ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha thanks for that!

Click to rate     Rating   16

Blackpool--a place where my parents took me some 45 years ago on holiday and I place I will never take my children on holiday to. Tacky, scruffy, dirty--and that's only the town. No surprise about the beach--only what most non Blackpool people thought anyway.

Click to rate     Rating   28

So Lancashire Tourist Board will be advertising "Sun,Sea,Sand and "that other word for sewage" in their next brochure.

Click to rate     Rating   29

Annie, north west, 26/5/2011 14:02 Well said Annie you are absolutely spot on, I'm originally from Blackpool & it makes me cross to read so much criticism of the place, those people saying how dirty and littered the beach is are more than likely the same holidaymakers that are leaving the damn litter there in the first place.

Click to rate     Rating   10

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Your name and location will appear next to your comment.
You have 1000 characters left.
We welcome your opinions. This is a public forum. Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our House Rules.
For information about privacy and cookies please read our Privacy Policy.