Published: August 16, 2012
New EU regulations 'will hit Burnham's tourism trade' warns report

A warning has been issued that Burnham's tourism trade could be hit from the year 2015 when new EU regulations will likely recommend that visitors do not swim from the town's beach.

Town councillors have expressed concern about a new document from the Enviroment Agency and Sedgemoor District Council that predicts Burnham's sea water bathing quality will be classified as 'poor', the lowest category possible.

"The bathing water at Burnham, Berrow and Brean has not deteriorated, but as a result of EU legislation and new bathing water regulations, water quality sampling will be more stringent," explains Sedgemoor's Phil Perkins in the Briefing Note.

"The Environment Agency will start monitoring using the new standards this year and will report the first classifications in 2015. As the situation currently stands, there is an expectation that Burnham-On-Sea will be classified as 'poor' in 2015 while Berrow and Brean are likely to be classified as 'sufficient'."

"If a site is classified as 'poor', certain measures must be taken and advice against bathing posted at the location. If a site is classified as 'poor' for five consecutive seasons, permanent advice against bathing is put in place."

"Businesses and tourism could be affected after 2015," adds the report.

"Consequently, Sedgemoor District Council is working in partnership with the Environment Agency and Wessex Water to improve bathing water quality. The authorities are investigating a number of pollution sources, such as surface water systems and sewerage infrastructure."

Burnham town councillors have asked for more information about the work to improve the water quality.

Burnham-On-Sea County Councillor Peter Burridge-Clayton said: "This is a concern. I am interested to hear what can be done to avoid this classification given that our water quality is not deteriorating."

And town councillor Phil Harvey added: "We certainly want to avoid our beaches being plastered with signs saying 'do not bathe here'."

Sedgemoor is also planning to hold a number of community engagement events over the next three years to provide more information about the changes. Residents can also contact the Environment Agency's incident reporting hotline on 0800 163300 if they spot pollution.


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