New figures reveal cleanliness of Norfolk and Suffolk’s beaches

Library image of swimmers enjoying a New Year's Day dip at Gorleston. Photo: Steve Parsons

Library image of swimmers enjoying a New Year's Day dip at Gorleston. Photo: Steve Parsons - Credit: Eastern Daily Press Archant

New data shows that a record 98.5pc of beaches are designated bathing water quality, including all those in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Good news for the intrepid swimmers who braved the cold North Sea yesterday for the traditional New Year's Day swim.

Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom said: 'People celebrating New Year's Day with a swim at our beautiful beaches can do so knowing the water is cleaner than at any time since the Industrial Revolution.

'We know there's more to do though and we'll continue to work to improve the water quality at our beaches as part of our ambition to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.'

Chair of the Environment Agency Emma Howard Boyd, said: 'Swimmers celebrating the New Year by braving the cold to take a dip are enjoying water much cleaner than decades ago. In 2017 we'll be asking everyone to make a resolution to help keep water at beaches pollution free.'

'Water quality was tested at 413 beaches and lakes in summer 2016 - a record 98.5pc passed the tougher standards.

'We advise all swimmers take care when open water swimming in cold water, especially after heavy rain which can temporarily impact on water quality.'

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Great strides have been made to improve water quality, helping to make our beaches even more attractive for the increasing numbers of tourists who visit from home and abroad.

Just 28pc of bathing waters met the top water quality standards in the early 1990s; 93.2pc rated excellent and good in 2016. Even with these dramatic improvements weather is still the most significant short term factor that impacts on water quality.

Visitors expect our bathing waters to meet strict standards, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, and thanks to work and significant investment by the government, water companies and local authorities the overwhelming majority now do.

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