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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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West Cumbrian beaches face closure to swimmers

Seascale and Haverigg beaches could be closed to swimmers if their bathing water is too polluted under new tough water standards.

Haverigg beach photo
Haverigg beach

Signs warning away swimmers could be put up if the beaches don’t reach a “sufficient’’ level.

Under current legislation, the two Copeland beaches are classed as “mandatory” (basic), but under tougher European bathing standards to be introduced in 2015, they would be demoted to “poor”. Beaches deemed “poor” four years in a row could then be closed.

Causes of concern at Seascale are diffused agriculture pollution, such as cow and sheep faeces and slurry, washed into the River Keekle and the River Calder, following heavy rain, which then flows into the sea. Slippery seaweed is also a safety concern at Seascale according to the Environment Agency.

At Haverigg, bathing water is also affected by “heavy rainfall runoff from agricultural areas” and a number of privately-owned properties are not connected to the mains sewerage system.

Rachel Haigh, an Environment Agency officer, said: “Our objective is for all bathing waters to be classified as ‘sufficient’ by 2015. We are working hard with others to identify and tackle sources of pollution at all bathing waters to meet this ambition.

“There has been major investment in Cumbria to improve the sewage network including new sewage treatment works at Seascale and upgraded facilities at Cleator. Heavy rainfall can cause pollution, including animal waste, to ‘run-off’ from agricultural land which can effect the bathing waters in this area. We are continuing our work with farmers to help them reduce this impact.”

More information can be found at the Environment Agency’s website www.environment-agency.gov.uk/bathingwaters

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