Sunderland beaches praised

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BATHERS are safe to take a dip on Wearside’s beaches according to a new Facebook-style website for swimming spots.

Roker and Seaburn beaches are among 500 bathing water sites to have detailed cleanliness profiles posted online.

Entries for the both Sunderland beaches state: “The bathing water typically achieves a high water quality standard but can be adversely affected after rainfall.”

The profiles include maps, photos and links to the latest water quality results for the country’s designated coastal and inland bathing sites.

The Environment Agency (EA) said they have been released to help the public make more informed choices about locations to visit.

Ed Mitchell, the EA’s director of environment and business, said: “A record number of beaches reached the highest European standards last year but we are not complacent.

“The Environment Agency is working hard to tackle all sources of pollution, alongside beach users, local authorities, farmers and water companies.”

Fulwell councillor George Howe, Sunderland Conservatives’ spokesman on water quality, said people should take the praise for water quality at Wearside’s beaches “with a pinch of salt”.

“I haven’t seen the new website, but there have been serious complaints about contamination of sea water on north Whitburn beaches.

“One campaigner, Bob Latimer, who lives right on the beach, has been complaining for a long time. He has compiled photographic evidence of contamination from both the beach and the river, where we have a combined sewage outflow.

“I think the EA should have a more rigourous testing regime – although they comply with EU standards.”

The EA said last year a record number of beaches and inland bathing waters in England and Wales reached the highest European standards in water quality.

The Government body conceded there is more work to be done to drive further improvements in water quality.

Andy Cummings, campaigns director for Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), said: “The new bathing water profiles are a significant step forward. Beach lovers can learn about the environmental impacts on their coast.”

The profiles are available at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/bathingwaters.