Dozens of Britain's best loved beaches face shutdown because sewage pipes have been hooked up to storm drains ... so human waste is pumped into swimming areas
Beaches at some of Britain's best-loved resorts could be closed for bathing from next year because of high levels of sewage contamination.
Water quality at popular stretches of coast including Blackpool, Scarborough and Clacton has failed to meet minimum standards.
Now EU rules mean 45 beaches face having to put up signs marking them as unfit for bathing from next year unless expensive steps are taken to remove sources of contamination, it emerged yesterday.
Blackpool Beach is one of 45 that could be declared unfit for bathing from next year under EU rules
Swimmers who ignore the signs would face the risk of going home with an ear, nose or throat infection, or even gastroenteritis.
It holds out the prospect of families deserting much-loved summer holiday destinations, with potentially devastating effects for local economies.
According to the Environment Agency, which released the list, a common problem that persists after years of clean-ups is houses and businesses whose sewage outlets are wrongly connected to storm drains emptying directly into the sea.
'Misconnections are emerging as a major problem,' its head of bathing waters, Christine Tuckett, told the Sunday Times.
Each of the beaches, including Scarborough pictured, would have signs marking them as unfit for bathing unless expensive steps are taken to remove sources of contamination
'In Torbay we found an entire hotel
was misconnected so its sewage was ending up on the beach where its
customers went swimming.'
She stressed that bathing water today was far cleaner than in previous decades thanks to work to reduce pollution from major sources like sewage works, but said more needed to be done.
The 45 beaches that could be closed for bathing as a result of failing water quality standards are:
Seaham Beach, Seaton Carew North, Staithes,
Scarborough South Bay, Clacton - Groyne 41,
Southend Jubilee, Walpole Bay - Margate,
Hastings, Lancing - Beach Green, Southsea,
Bembridge, Lyme Regis Church,Ladram Bay,
Budleigh Salterton, Teignmouth Town,
Mothecombe, Seaton - Cornwall, East Looe,
Gorran Haven -,Little Perhaver, Porthluney,
Porth, Instow, Ilfracombe Wildersmouth,
Combe Martin, Burnham Jetty North,
Weston-s-Mare Uphill Slipway, Southport,
St Annes - Lytham St Annes, St Annes North - Blackpool, Blackpool South, Blackpool Central,
Blackpool North, Cleveleys, Fleetwood,
Morecambe South, Morecambe North,
Walney Biggar Bank, Walney Sandy Gap,
Walney West Shore, Roan Head, Askam-in-Furness, Haverigg, Seascale, Allonby,
Source: Environment Agency
'About a third of the remaining pollution comes from agriculture, a third from point sources like sewage works and the rest is down to random factors like misconnected drains,' she added.
The agency has appointed 'drain detectives' patrolled resorts including such as Hastings, Lyme Regis and Teignmouth to identify properties whose owners could be ordered to connect outlets to sewers instead.
Meanwhile Hastings - whose bathing beach is among those facing closure - has found 30 misconnected properties and is considering redesignating a different stretch as safe for swimmers.
Elsewhere, some beaches could see bans on feeding seagulls, whose droppings are another source of contamination, while more could see dogs prohibited.
This summer offers the final chance for the offending beaches to meet minimum water standards before the EU rules require local councils to put up warning signs next year.
But as contamination is based on the average over four years, any beaches ruled unsafe could face a long wait before they are reopened.
And with the country just emerging from the wettest winter on record, sweeping bacteria and viruses into the sea, more stretches of coast could find themselves branded too dirty for bathing.
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