The UK beaches where people 'should not swim' because water is too polluted

Blackpool North is one of the beaches where entering the water is not advisable due to pollution
-Credit: (Image: James Maloney/Lancs Live)

Millions of families will be heading to seaside locations across the UK this summer for a much-needed getaway. Getting an ice cream, going down to the beach and popping for a swim is all part of the fun when the sun is shining.

But families are being warned that might not be possible everywhere this summer. That's because the sea at some beaches has been judged to be so dirty and polluted people have been advised against swimming.

It could certainly put a dampener on UK getaways and follows widespread criticism about the state of our waterways after years of sewage pollution. Popular seaside destinations where families are advised against going for a dip include areas of Blackpool, Weston-super-Mare and Scarborough.

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The water quality at these locations is classed as "poor" and "bathing is not advised". There are 18 of these sites which have been tested by the Environment Agency.

They are:

  • Blackpool North

  • Bognor Regis (Aldwick)

  • Bridlington South Beach

  • Dunster Beach

  • Heacham

  • Littlestone

  • Porthluney

  • River Deben Estuary, Waldringfield

  • Scarborough South Bay

  • Southsea East

  • St Annes North

  • St Mary's Bay (Kent)

  • Tynemouth Cullercoats

  • Weston Main

  • Weston-super-Mare Sand Bay

  • Weston-super-Mare Uphill Slipway

  • Wharfe at Cromwheel, Ilkley

  • Wolvercote Mill Stream

There are 425 locations in England that have been designated as official bathing spots by the Environment Agency. The water quality of most of those (281) is classified as “excellent”. At another 99 it’s classified as “good”.

The list of bathing spots swimmers are advised to avoid includes popular seaside towns such as Blackpool North, Bridlington South Beach, Bognor Regis (Aldwick), Scarborough South Bay, and three spots in Weston-super-Mare. The Environment Agency has also issued permanent advice against swimming in four official bathing sites - Clacton (Groyne 41), Instow, Ilfracombe Wildersmouth, and Burnham Jetty North.

The Environment Agency tests water at bathing sites throughout the year for the presence of harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli (known as E. coli) and Intestinal enterococci. Each bathing site is then given a rating based on the results over the year, either “excellent”, “good”, “sufficient” or “poor”.