Blue Flag awards: Carbis Bay adds a sixth award for Cornwall

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Carbis Bay, Cornwall
Image caption,
Carbis Bay regained the internationally-recognised Blue Flag it lost last year

Blue Flag awards have been given to six beaches in Cornwall by the anti-litter group Keep Britain Tidy.

Carbis Bay was added to the county's existing five Blue Flag beaches of Porthmeor, Porthminster, Polzeath, Porthtowan and Gyllyngvase.

Cornwall had the third highest number of Blue Flag beaches. Thanet in Kent came top with nine, followed by Torbay in Devon with five.

A total of 79 English beaches received Blue Flags - nine more than in 2011.

Forty-one countries take part in the Blue Flag programme, which is managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and in England by Keep Britain Tidy.

The flags, which are awarded annually, are based on a number of criteria, including water quality, environmental management, services and safety.

Sennen Cove and Carbis Bay were stripped of their Blue Flag awards last year.

Sewage warnings

Organisers have warned that a tougher water quality standard being introduced next year under the new EU Bathing Water Directive could result in 30% of English beaches losing their flags.

From 2013 Blue Flag beaches will also have to provide warnings to beach users when nearby combined sewer overflows discharge, if that discharge could temporarily affect the bathing water quality.

The sewage warning initiative was put forward by environmental group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and South West Water, to allow people to make an informed decision about when to go into the water.

Andy Cummins, SAS campaign director, welcomed the introduction. He said 172 beaches had already signed up to the warning scheme, which he described as a "great result".

"I'm pleased the flags are going to be harder to get from next year. Even if it means there will be fewer of them, they'll really, really mean something because it's about quality rather than quality," he told BBC News.

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