concerns over impact of EU's sea water rules on Burnham
concerns at new EU regulations which could have a 'devastating'
impact on Burnham-On-Sea's tourism economy have been expressed
by town councillors this week.
strict new EU Bathing Waters Directive, due to come into force
in 2015, could lead to the town being labled as having poor sea
water quality, leading to new signs being introduced by the EU
advising against swimming and paddling.
currently holds a Seaside Award from campaign group Keep Britain
Tidy, as reported here
in May, recognising the quality of its beaches and cleanliness.
the Environment Agency's Environment Manager, Jim Flory, told
a meeting of town councillors on Monday that Burnham's sea water
would currently be classed as "borderline poor" if it
were assessed today using the guidelines of the new EU directive.
new rules will see the introduction of higher standards that are
approximately twice as stringent. Beaches will be classed as excellent,
good, sufficient or poor - and Burnham is currently on a list
of 20 resorts in the south west at risk.
Mr Flory said that if Burnham's sea water were classified as poor,
signs would have to be displayed on beaches advising people against
bathing, swimming or paddling and that if there is no improvement
within five years a 'ban' could come into force.
Environment Agency is currently trying to raise awareness of the
new regulations and explain how local businesses and residents
can help raise the standard.
in the water comes from many sources - agricultural, animals,
urban run-off, residents and beach visitors, " said Mr Flory.
"Lots is being done by the Environment Agency to address
the problem but we need the help of local communities too - avoiding
littering and dog fouling on beaches, checking that plumbing runs
into the right sewers, avoiding feeding gulls and encouraging
Peter Burridge-Clayton asked why Weston has received £35million
of investment from the water board to improve its sea water quality
while Burnham has received nothing.
Flory said Burnham is "a lot bigger problem to resolve than
Weston" due to its location with several rivers - the Brue
and Parrett - joining the estuary.
Helen Groves said: "Sedgemoor District Council could be bidding
for central government funding to try and help Burnham address
Ken Smout told the meeting he is concerned about the negative
impact that the Environment Agency's communication on the changes
could have on local tourism.
need to sell Burnham as a tourist destination - this could have
a devastating impact on our economy," he said.
Flory, pictured right, said that while the Environment Agency
is aware of the potential impact, it "has a legal obligation
to tell the public the full facts."
this year, Burnham's Tourist Centre Manager Ian Jefferies said:
"The EU regulations could hit us badly - they are unrealistic
for estuary resorts like Burnham where there is lots of silt in
the sea water. Nothing has changed for the worse about our water
quality, just the way it is being monitored."
Top, Nick Malone of the Environment Agency taking a water sample
in Burnham earlier this year and, above, the agency's Jim Flory.
Below, councillors listening to Monday's presentation