Water quality met EU standards at 90 per cent of beaches, however although these figures are much improved on the figures of only 86 per cent last year, many have criticised the quality standards, which were made 35 years ago.
Campaigners have claim, “meeting an outdated and inadequate standard is nothing to shout about”.
“Almost all of our beaches meet the minimum standards now, compared to just three-quarters in 1991,” said Christine Tuckett from the Environment Agency.
But Andy Cummins, from Surfers Against Sewage, said: “Many beaches may be meeting woefully inadequate water quality standards set down 35 years ago, but this still leaves bathers exposed to significant numbers of sewage spills, with possible serious health implications.”
New more stringent standards are planned to come into force in 2015, Tuckett revealed. And work to tackle persistent sources of pollution and make sure as many beaches as possible pass these standards is underway.
“We are moving in the right direction,” said Cummins. “The top end of the new standards will give you some pretty good water quality.”
The Environment Agency stated it had helped gain further investment from the water industry for environmental improvements.