Defra has announced today (Wednesday 30th November) that St. Anne’s Beach, along with several others across the North West, have suffered a marked reduction in bathing water quality classification from ‘Good’ to ‘Sufficient’. The Leader of Fylde Council, Karen Buckley, expressed her dismay at this reduction in status for our local beach, and pressed for action to identify the source of the bacteria. The organisation Turning Tides, a cross-agency partnership working across North West England to improve the quality of our bathing waters, said that DNA analysis of bathing water samples will be carried out to identify the main areas of concern.
Giving her response, Leader of Fylde Council, Councillor Karen Buckley said, ‘I am dismayed by the results out today regarding the reduction in bathing water quality status from ‘Good’ to ‘Sufficient’ at St Anne’s Beach. All along the coast there has been a reduction in water quality and this is despite our efforts as a local council, enhanced by the wonderful work of our community volunteers and litter-pickers, to keep our beaches clean. Action is needed to identify the cause of the bacteria in the water. We have pressed the Environment Agency to use DNA testing to help pinpoint the problem and will continue to work together with the Turning Tides Partnership, the Environment Agency, and United Utilities to improve the bathing water quality status at St Anne’s with an action plan to ensure our objectives can be met.’
She continued, ‘Our beaches are a haven for our residents, visitors and sports enthusiasts so the quality of our water is vitally important and must be improved going forwards.’
Councillor Tommy Threlfall, Chair of the Environment, Health and Housing Committee for Fylde Council added, ‘This data on our beaches is very disappointing, especially for us at Fylde Council. We work hard to maintain high-quality beaches in Fylde with our Ranger and Environmental Protection teams who are very dedicated and work with pride on our beach. We will be engaging with the Environment Agency and United Utilities to further investigate the reasons for this downturn in bathing water quality.’
A spokesperson for Turning Tides said, “For the past decade, organisations within the Turning Tides partnership have effectively worked together to actively improve the quality of bathing waters in the North West. The Love My Beach Campaign worked with thousands of people who made a real difference to their local beaches for everyone to enjoy.
The 2022 results are not what we want to see and a reduction in the water quality at some bathing waters are a disappointment for the partnership. DNA analysis of bathing water samples will identify the main areas of concern and we will make a massive effort to address these issues going forward.
Despite the challenges ahead, bathing water quality remains a success story with a continuing upward trend. With only 18% of North West bathing waters achieving the minimum standards in 1988 to 97% today.
The Turning Tides Partnership will now need to time to digest the results and work on an action plan to ensure bathing waters can be improved in the future. This is a long-term project that will need a concerted effort from local authorities, water companies, farmers, regulators, local businesses and the public to ensure progress continues.’