Plan revealed for dozens of new bathing water sites

Government to consult on largest ever rollout of new bathing water sites

The beach at St Ives in Cornwall.

  • Government to consult on largest ever rollout of new bathing water sites
  • Members of the public are invited to have their say before the consultation closes on 10 March

Plans to designate the largest ever number of new bathing water sites have been set out by the Water Minister today (26th February), as part of the government’s plan to improve water quality across the country. 

Subject to a two-week consultation, the Environment Agency will create 27 new designated swimming spots across England. If designated, sites will receive regular water monitoring from the Environment Agency, who will investigate pollution sources and identify steps to be taken in response, which could include actions by water companies, farmers and others. 

Last year, 96% of bathing waters in England met minimum standards and 90% of bathing waters in England were rated as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, up from 76% in 2010, despite the classification standards becoming stricter in 2015. The government also updated its guidance last year to make the application process clearer and easier to follow. 

All residents, bathers, businesses, and organisations are invited to have their say before the consultation closes on 10 March. 

Water Minister Robbie Moore said:

"Many people enjoy spending time in our rivers, lakes, and coastal beaches, and I am very aware of the value they bring in terms of social, health and wellbeing benefits.     

"I want to continue to improve the quality of our bathing waters, which is why we are taking action across the board to drive up standards and hold water companies to account.  

"I encourage all local communities and organisations with an interest to take part in this consultation and have their say."

Currently, when selecting new sites, Defra considers how many people bathe there and if the site has suitable infrastructure and facilities, such as toilets. All applications are assessed against these factors and only those that meet these factors are taken forward to public consultation. 

The sites being considered for designation are:   

  • Church Cliff Beach, Lyme Regis, Dorset  
  • Coastguards Beach, River Erme, Devon  
  • Coniston Boating Centre, Coniston Water, Cumbria   
  • Coniston Brown Howe, Coniston Water, Cumbria   
  • Littlehaven Beach, Tyne and Wear  
  • Manningtree Beach, Essex  
  • Monk Coniston, Coniston Water, Cumbria   
  • River Avon at Fordingbridge, Hampshire  
  • River Cam at Sheep’s Green, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire   
  • River Dart Estuary at Dittisham, Devon   
  • River Dart Estuary at Steamer Quay, Totnes, Devon   
  • River Dart Estuary at Stoke Gabriel, Devon   
  • River Dart Estuary at Warfleet, Dartmouth, Devon   
  • River Frome at Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset  
  • River Nidd at the Lido Leisure Park in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire  
  • River Ribble at Edisford Bridge, Lancashire  
  • River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire   
  • River Severn at Shrewsbury, Shropshire   
  • River Stour at Sudbury, Suffolk  
  • River Teme at Ludlow, Shropshire   
  • River Tone in French Weir Park, Taunton, Somerset  
  • Wallingford Beach, River Thames, Berkshire  
  • Derwent Water, Crow Park, Keswick, Cumbria  
  • River Wharfe at Wetherby Riverside, West Yorkshire  
  • Goring Beach, Worthing, West Sussex  
  • Worthing Beach House, Worthing, West Sussex  
  • Rottingdean Beach, Rottingdean, East Sussex   

This consultation will build on recent improvements the government has delivered to the water environment, including: 

  • Announcing a ban on bonuses for water company executives whose firms have committed serious criminal breaches – subject to Ofwat consultation.  
  • Quadrupling the Environment Agency’s regulatory capacity – allowing them to carry out 4,000 water company inspections by the end of the next financial year. 
  • Requiring companies to monitor 100% of storm overflows in England - providing a complete picture of when and where sewage spills happen.    
  • Removing the cap on civil penalties for water companies and broadening their scope so swifter action can be taken against those who pollute our waterways.    
  • Requiring the largest infrastructure programme in water company history - £60 billion over 25 years – to revamp aging assets and reduce the number of sewage spills by hundreds of thousands every year.   
  • Increasing protections for coastal and estuarine waters by expanding the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan, prioritising bathing waters, sites of special scientific interest and shellfish waters.     
  • Providing £10 million in support for farmers to store more water on their land through the Water Management Grants to support food production and improve water security.     
  • Speeding up the process of building key water supply infrastructure, including more reservoirs and water transfer schemes.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs