Essex beach in one of the best towns to live named a swimming hotspot

Manningtree beach has been named as a new designated bathing water site
Manningtree beach has been named as a new designated bathing water site -Credit:Michelle Taylor

A record number of wild swimming spots - including a beach in Essex - have been designated as bathing sites in England ahead of the summer months, the Government has confirmed. The Environment Agency will immediately start monitoring the water quality at 27 sites which the Government had proposed as new bathing sites during a consultation earlier this year.

It brings the total number of sites for the 2024 water bathing season, which runs between May 15 and September 30, to 451 across England. Manningtree Beach has officially been confirmed as a swimming spot after plans to make it worthy of the title were revealed earlier this year.

The Environment Department (Defra) said the Government will also launch a consultation later this year on proposals to reform bathing water regulations in England. This includes proposed change to drive improvements to water quality at bathing spots, enhance monitoring and enable more flexibility around the dates of the monitoring season.

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Defra said it will seek public and stakeholder views on extending the definition of “bathers” to include a wider range of water users beyond swimmers – such as rowers, kayakers and paddle boarders. Defra said that last year 96 per cent of bathing waters in England met minimum annual standards and 90 per cent were rated as “good” or “excellent”.

But there has been growing public anger over the state of England’s rivers and coastal waters, which suffer pollution from sewage outlets and other sources such as agricultural run-off. The new bathing waters include a dozen river sites like the Severn at Ironbridge, and Wallingford Beach on the River Thames in Berkshire.

In addition, several spots on Coniston Water and one on Derwent Water, in Cumbria, have been added as designated spots. These water sites are regularly monitored by the Environment Agency, which assesses whether action is needed to cut pollution levels and works with local communities, farmers and water companies to improve water quality.

Making the announcement on what was described as the largest ever rollout of new bathing sites, water minister Robbie Moore said: “The value our bathing waters bring to local communities is incredibly valuable – providing social, physical and positive health and wellbeing benefits to people around the country.

"I am pleased to have approved a further 27 new bathing water sites for this year. I am fully committed to seeing the quality of our coastal waters, rivers and lakes rise further for the benefit of the environment and everyone who uses them.”

Alan Lovell, Environment Agency chairman, said: “Overall bathing water quality has improved massively over the last decade due to targeted and robust regulation from the Environment Agency, and the good work carried out by partners and local groups. We know that improvements can take time and investment from the water industry, farmers and local communities, but where the investment is made, standards can improve.”

The new bathing water sites also include:

  • Church Cliff Beach, Lyme Regis, Dorset

  • Coastguards Beach, River Erme, Devon

  • Coniston Boating Centre, Coniston Water, Cumbria

  • Coniston Brown Howe, Coniston Water, Cumbria

  • Littlehaven Beach, Tyne and Wear

  • Manningtree Beach, Essex

  • Monk Coniston, Coniston Water, Cumbria

  • River Avon at Fordingbridge, Hampshire

  • River Cam at Sheep’s Green, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

  • River Dart Estuary at Dittisham, Devon

  • River Dart Estuary at Steamer Quay, Totnes, Devon

  • River Dart Estuary at Stoke Gabriel, Devon

  • River Dart Estuary at Warfleet, Dartmouth, Devon

  • River Frome at Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset

  • River Nidd at the Lido Leisure Park in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

  • River Ribble at Edisford Bridge, Lancashire

  • River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire

  • River Severn at Shrewsbury, Shropshire

  • River Stour at Sudbury, Suffolk

  • River Teme at Ludlow, Shropshire

  • River Tone in French Weir Park, Taunton, Somerset

  • Wallingford Beach, River Thames, Berkshire

  • Derwent Water, Crow Park, Keswick, Cumbria

  • River Wharfe at Wetherby Riverside, West Yorkshire

  • Goring Beach, Worthing, West Sussex

  • Worthing Beach House, Worthing, West Sussex

  • Rottingdean Beach, Rottingdean, East Sussex