Church Cliff beach still needs improvements to water quality

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Cllr Mark Gage at Church Cliff Beach ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Cllr Mark Gage at Church Cliff Beach

A LYME Regis beach has cleaned up its act but there is ‘work still to be done’.

Church Cliff Beach was ranked ‘mandatory’ in this year’s Good Beach Guide after it failed in the list last year.

Beaches across Dorset came under scrutiny with the publication of the guide by the Marine Conservation Society earlier this week.

The popular beach still faces the threat of de-designation if it is categorised as poor in 2015.

Lyme Regis Front Beach is now ranked as a ‘recommended’ beach after being ranked as mandatory last year. The improved results follow the multi-million pound investment made across the region by South West Water’s Clean Sweep programme. South West Water, which worked with Lyme Regis Town Council and the Environment Agency to help improve the water quality, pledged in November last year to spend another £500,000 in Lyme Regis to improve its infrastructure over the next 18 months.

Vice chairman of the parish council, Councillor Mark Gage said: “The beach rankings this year are a good step for the town. Both beaches are essential to the life and tourism activities of the town.

“There is however very much work still to be done and this is very much an ongoing process.

“Church Cliff Beach has been a problem in the past, with suggestions for the town council to de-designate the beach – but this is something we would never support.”

Town councillors heard an Environment Agency scheme could ‘act as a cushion’ for stricter water quality standards for beaches introduced next year.

At a committee meeting on April 9, councillors considered introducing a predictive system, warning when reduced bathing water quality is likely, for the two beaches.

But the MCS report stated that predictions under a new Environment Agency system are ‘no replacement’ for beach improvements.

Councillors heard that predictive water quality information based on Environment Agency information would need to be displayed on signs at relevant locations by 10am on given days. Cllr Elliott Herbert said the scheme is about giving people the correct knowledge even on the worst of beaches.

Cllr Gage added: “Anything we can do to improve the quality of information for both visitors and residents of the town is a positive step.

“I hope we continue to work with South West Water to ensure that beaches receive positive reports.”

Cllr Lucy Campbell said: “It would be brilliant to have self sufficient electronic signage on the beach for bathing quality.”

She also suggested the matter should be brought back to the town management committee after an investigation into whether the electronic signs would be viable.

  • The Town Council noted that the scheme is unlikely to make any difference to either the current or future classification of Front Beach or Church Cliff Beach, but that there are benefits.

Perceived benefits are that the council is doing more to inform and protect the public, bathers can make better informed choices, and that the scheme ‘provides a cushion’ against tougher bathing standards.

Signage could also mean water samples may not be taken if due on a day when a sign is displayed – resulting in up to 15 per cent of water samples being discounted.

Any recommendations from the management committee will be considered by the full council on May 21.

  • By the end of the 2015 bathing season, all designated bathing waters must meet the new minimum ‘sufficient’ standard due to the revised EU Bathing Water Directive.

This standard will be twice as strict, meaning that some beaches will need to do more to make the grade.

Beaches which don’t meet the ‘Sufficient’ standard at the end of 2015 will have to display signs warning against bathing in the sea from the start of the bathing season in 2016.

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