Cornwall

Top EU bathing water quality at 96% of Cornish beaches

Porthcurno beach, Cornwall
Image caption Water quality is monitored between May and September for bacteria

Most of Cornwall's beaches have reached the highest European standards in bathing water quality.

Out of 80 designated beaches, 79 were rated "good" - and 76 of these were "excellent."

Seaton beach, near Looe, was the only beach in Cornwall which failed to reach the mandatory standard.

The Environment Agency said the percentage of beaches which exceeded the standard quality was 90% - a 6% rise on the previous year.

Nationally, 86% of beaches and bathing spots reached the standard, compared with 80% in 2009.

Water quality is monitored for bacteria between May and September, but tougher standards are due to come into force in 2015.

South West Water (SWW) said the results were a tribute to its £2bn 20-year "Clean Sweep" programme to improve beach water quality in the South West.

'Generations to come'

It included a new £10.5m waste water treatment works opened earlier this year to serve Boscastle, Bossiney and Tintagel.

Operations director Stephen Bird said SWW's future focus was to ensure residents and visitors could experience the benefits of cleaner bathing waters "for generations to come".

"As an industry leader on bathing water quality, we will continue our work with the Environment Agency, local councils and other bodies including Surfers Against Sewage, to improve bathing water quality still further," he said.

Before Clean Sweep, only 38 bathing waters in the South West consistently met the excellent standard.

This year's "positive" results were described by Visit Cornwall as good news for the tourism industry.

"Having clean and safe waters is one of the main reasons visitors come to the region," spokesman Malcolm Bell said.

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