Tourism leaders were celebrating today after Blackpool was given the green light to apply for coveted Blue Flag status.
Figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this morning show that almost all of the area’s sea water has passed strict new bathing water regulations, with three, Blackpool South, St Annes North and Fleetwood, being hailed for their ‘excellent’ sea water quality.
That classification puts the water quality at the three beaches on course to be ranked amongst some of the best in the world, by becoming eligible for Blue Flag status.
Seven out of eight sea waters – Fleetwood, Bispham, Blackpool North, Blackpool Central, Blackpool South, St Annes North and St Annes Pier - have passed the new standards.
But Cleveleys failed – with signs now having to be erected advising people not to swim in the water at that location.
Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member responsible for bathing water quality, said: “I am absolutely delighted by today’s results.
“A huge amount of work has gone in to making sure that our waters are cleaner than ever and this announcement just proves the massive step forward that we have all taken.
“To have all of our sea waters pass the new directive is fantastic but to have a Blue Flag in Blackpool would be a massive boost to the resort and a real feather in our cap.
“People can now be assured that wherever they go on Blackpool’s coastline they can expect good quality sea water to swim and paddle in.
“Thank you to everybody who has helped to improve our water quality. From picking up after your dog’s mess to not putting the wrong thing down the toilet, it all makes a difference.
“We are doing our bit to try and make the sea water cleaner, but we still need businesses and the public to help us do more to make sure that we continue to pass the new standards.
“Anybody who wants to do their bit can visit the local LOVEmyBEACH website to get involved.”
Coun Roger Berry, Cabinet member with responsibility for bathing waters at Wyre Council, said: “We are pleased that Fleetwood has been rated excellent and is in the top three along the Fylde Coast.
“A lot of work has been carried out to improve the quality of sea water at both Fleetwood and Cleveleys and although that is reflected in Fleetwood’s results, we are disappointed with the outcome for Cleveleys.
“Out of 80 samples taken over a four year period there were only four samples, in 2012 and 2013, which were poor. These have skewed this year’s overall result, despite results improving year on year since. Looking at 2014 and 2015 bathing seasons individually Cleveleys would be rated good.
“Major infrastructure improvements are already under way which will further improve water quality so there is every reason to believe that Cleveleys will soon equal the standards being set along the rest of the Fylde Coast.
“Members of the public have played a big part in improving our bathing waters by thinking about what they flush, not dropping litter and joining in regular beach cleans, so I’d like to thank them for their efforts.”
Coun Ben Aitken, chairman of Fylde Council’s Environmental Health and Housing Committee, said: “St Annes North beach was classified as ‘excellent’ while St Annes Pier beach was classed as ‘good’. One of them won a Seaside Award earlier this year and this is the second year running that the beaches in St Annes have excelled these tough new standards
“Decades of work has gone into improving the quality of our sea water and it is now paying off. The bathing waters have rarely, if ever, been cleaner and that is great news for visitors and our tourist economy.
“We want to keep the work going and residents can help by simple steps such as ensuring their pets don’t foul the beach and ensuring their drains are correctly connected. They have been brilliantly supportive so far and I’m sure they’ll continue their efforts in the future.”
Dr Pete Fox, Director of Land & Water at the Environment Agency said: “Water quality at beaches is better than any time in living memory, with dramatic improvements having been made over the last few decades. The Environment Agency has led successful work to monitor, investigate and reduce pollution, which has benefited the environment and people with nearly all of England’s beaches, 97 per cent, meeting the new stringent water quality standards.
“The Environment Agency will continue to encourage water companies, local authorities, farmers, and businesses to work together to maintain and improve water quality.
“The results are based on samples taken by the Environment Agency over the last four years. Information about each beach is available on the Bathing Water Explorer website.”
The new directive is based on up to four years’ worth of samples, taken by the Environment Agency, with bathing waters classified as excellent, good, sufficient or poor.
HOW YOUR AREA RATED
Fleetwood - Excellent
Cleveleys - Poor
Bispham - Sufficient
Blackpool North - Good
Blackpool Central - Sufficient
Blackpool South - Excellent
St Annes North - Excellent
St Annes Pier - Good