Campaigners see the announcement of Blue Flag beaches as an opportunity to highlight the environmental problems that remain elsewhere, ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi replies
If you want to know about seawater, ask a mermaid.
On the day 80 Blue Flags were awarded for good beaches, we filmed with the Manningtree Mermaids. They are a group of women who swim in rivers and the sea - what they’ve come across has turned them into environmental campaigners. Recently they found pollution gushing into a local river and heading out to sea.
Anna Helm-Baxter told me "I think it's really great to celebrate big wins with Blue Flags, but it doesn't mean we should stop putting pressure on the water companies. I think there's been a lack of transparency." Blue Flags celebrate the best of England’s shoreline, with three beaches getting the award for the first time: Avon Beach, Highcliffe and Friars Cliff in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area.
Two beaches, Sandbanks in Poole and Oddicombe in Torbay, Devon, have now received Blue Flags for 35 years in a row, making them among the finest in the world according to the scheme’s organisers.It’s great to congratulate resorts that got Blue Flags, but many see this as an opportunity to highlight the environmental problems that remain elsewhere. According to official records there have been 338 pollution incidents in bathing waters in the last five years.
We filmed in a part of Clacton, known as Groyne 41 beach, where water quality is so poor visitors are warned not to swim. Yet in the same council area, Brightlingsea beach got a Blue Flag on Friday.
I asked Cllr Alex Porter why the public should have to put up with such varied standards. He told me: "We're really happy to have six award-winning beaches and two Blue Flags which is just fantastic.
"We will work towards making the other one (Groyne 41) better quality."
The full list of England's Blue Flag beaches:
Alum Chine BournemouthBeachlands - Hayling IslandBlackpool SandsBranksome Chine PooleBreakwater BeachBrightlingseaBrighton BeachBroadsands BeachCanford Cliffs PooleCarbis Bay BeachChallaboroughCleethorpesCromerCrooklets BudeDawlish WarrenDovercourt BayDurley Chine BournemouthEast RuntonExmouthFelixstowe SouthFishermans Walk BournemouthGreat Western NewquayGyllyngvaseHornseaHoveKing Edwards Bay (Tynemouth)LeysdownLong Sands South TynemouthMablethorpe TownManor Steps BournemouthMinnis BayMinster LeasMundesleyOddicombe BeachPolzeathPorthmeor St IvesPorthtowanPortreathPreston Sands (Paignton)Roker (Whitburn South)SaltburnSandownSandy BayScarborough North BaySea PallingSeaburn Beach (Whitburn North)Sheerness BeachSheringhamShoebury EastShoeburynessShore Road - Sandbanks PooleSidmouthSkegnessSouthbourne BournemouthSouthend - Westcliff BaySt Mildreds BayStone BaySutton-on-SeaSwanageTankerton BeachTeignmouthThe Bay MargateThorpe BayThree Shells (Southend)Torre AbbeyTrevone BayWalton-on-the-NazeWest BayWest RuntonWest WitteringWestbrook Bay MargateWestward Ho!WeymouthWhitbyWhitley BayWidemouth Bay