How Clean Is Your Beach?
Beaches and swimming spots in England and Wales have been rated and their details put on the internet, the Environment Agency said today.
Bathers are now able to go online to find information on around 500 sites, including cleanliness, photographs and maps.
The new bathing water profiles at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/bathingwaters have links to the latest water quality results for each of the country's designated coastal and inland bathing sites.
They have been released to help the public make more informed choices about the best locations to visit and enjoy, the agency said.
A record number of beaches and inland bathing waters in England and Wales reached the highest European standards in water quality last year, according to the Environment Agency.
Over eight in 10 beaches met the EU guideline standard across England and Wales - compared with just three in 10 in 1990.
The Environment Agency has helped to direct around #8 billion of water company investment to upgrade the country's sewage system and reduce pollution in the past two decades, leading to huge improvements in bathing water quality.
However, it said there is more work to be done to drive further improvements in water quality, and it is working to identify and tackle sources of pollution at all bathing sites.
Ed Mitchell, Environment Agency director of environment and business, said:
"Our new profiles provide the most comprehensive information yet on the cleanliness of bathing waters, helping the public to make more informed choices about the best locations to bathe.
"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.''
Andy Cummins, campaigns director for Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), added:
"The new bathing water profiles are a significant step forward in the provision of public information about important coastal environments.
"Beach lovers, including many SAS members, can learn about the environmental impacts on their coast.
"These bathing water profiles will not make the water cleaner, but they will allow beach users to make more informed decisions about when is best to use the water and the information to know when it might be better to give it a miss due to pollution incidents.''
The public can find out information about bathing waters in their area by visiting the Environment Agency's website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/bathingwaters.