North Devon beaches ‘named and shamed’ in bathing water study

Joseph Bulmer

Combe Martin and Wildersmouth are the only two beaches in the South West to fail basic test

TWO North Devon beaches have been named and shamed in a new report highlighting the region’s bathing water quality.

Combe Martin and Ilfracombe’s Wildersmouth were the only two beaches in the South West not to meet the minimum cleanliness requirements, according to the Environment Agency.

Figures released by Defra show that in 2011, 189 of 191 (99 per cent) bathing waters around the region passed the basic standard.

Twenty years ago just three-quarters were clean enough to pass the test.

Furthermore, a record number of beaches also reached the highest European standards in bathing water quality, which are 20 times more stringent.

Only 11 sites failed to meet that standard, Hele and Instow among those unable to make the top grade, together with Combe Martin and Wildersmouth.

The Environment Agency said it was working with the farmers and the local water company to target improvements at Capstone and Hele beaches ahead of stricter standards that come into force in 2015. Richard Cresswell, regional director of the Environment Agency in the South West, said more than �3 billion has been invested to upgrade sewerage systems but there was still much to do.

“Almost all of our beaches meet the minimum standards now, but we are working with water companies, farmers, local authorities and beach managers to tackle persistent sources of pollution and make sure that as many beaches as possible pass these standards,” he said.