Lyme Regis: Church Beach and Cobb Beach scrape into bathing guide (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Lyme Regis: Church Beach and Cobb Beach scrape into bathing guide
Lyme Regis’ two bathing beaches have scraped into the new Good Beach Guide for 2012, but much stricter rules ahead may see signs going up warning bathers of the poor quality of the water off the “Pearl of Dorset”.
Church Beach, which last year was given an embarrassing “fail” grade has now achieved the minimum standard with a “mandatory” grading, the same as Cobb Beach.
Now the two Lyme Regis beaches and Kimmeridge in Purbeck are the only ones among 40 bathing beaches across Dorset with the lowest grading.
And the Environment Agency warned this week that although it was pleased that Church Beach had passed the basic criteria, new, much tighter rules on polluted water coming in three years time could prove a problem for the resort.
And while the upgrade for Church Beach has been welcomed, cleaning up the sea off Lyme has been described as “the number one priority” for the town council.
Monitoring for the tougher revised Bathing Water Directive begins this summer and all bathing beaches must be classed as “sufficient” by 2015.
Beaches where the water quality is poor will have to put up signs warning the public, with daily predictions available for swimmers to decide whether to dip a toe into the water.
Lyme Regis Town Council, West Dorset District Council, the Environment Agency and South West Water have been working together to tackle the problem at Lyme and investigated the water quality, which included looking at leaking sewers and farm water run-off containing animal waste.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Of course we are pleased that Church Beach has now passed, but it is important to say that we are still concerned about its future performance under the revised directive and there is a lot of work to be done.
“We are still working with our partners to try and locate the root causes of the problems of water quality there. It is the River Lym which feeds the sea and there are numerous issues – we are not looking at just one source or a quick fix. It is now important to try and at least maintain the status that the beaches have now.”
Travel and PR expert Doug Goodman from Lyme Regis said it was good news for the town.
“To have the beach upgraded from a fail will do a lot of good in encouraging visitors to come to what is the Pearl of Dorset,” he said.
Town businesswoman and councillor Rikey Austin said the achievement getting Church Beach a pass-mark was “absolutely excellent news for the town”.
Rachel Wyatt, Coastal Pollution Officer for the Marine Conservation Society, which publishes the Good Beach Guide, urged people to vote with their feet and go to the guide’s recommended beaches and added: “It’s really important that local authorities, water companies and environmental regulators don’t become complacent and take their collective feet off the pedal of continued environmental improvements.”
Five beaches in the west of the county again made it to the top category for excellent water quality – the National Trust-owned Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock, West Bay’s West Beach, Eype’s Mouth, Seatown and Charmouth’s west beach all retain their recommended status.
The MCS urges bathers and beachgoers to visit the Good Beach Guide website at www.goodbeachguide.co.uk<&eh> to check the data about beaches all around the coast.
Number one priority
Town councillor Mark Gage, pictured near right, who has been working with the partner agencies to improve the situation admits that there is a considerable amount of work to be done as the new rules will mean that the water must be cleaner in future to remain at even the lowest acceptable standard.
“I can’t emphasise enough how an important an issue this is,” he said.
“There aren’t many more things in Lyme Regis more important than this. There is an awful lot to be done and for the council this is a number one priority for us.
“It is not easy. Lyme is a bit different to the other beaches around us in that the River Lym reaches the sea through a semi-urban area. Just one of the initiatives we are working on with the Environment Agency and the local authority to put netting over the last stretch of the river to stop pigeons roosting.
“Hundreds of pigeons leave their droppings which go straight into the sea where the water is tested.”