Published: July 30, 2013
Over 270 people sign EU sea water petition in Burnham-On-Sea

More than 270 people have signed a petition in Burnham-On-Sea calling for a rethink on new EU regulations which could have a 'devastating' impact on Burnham's tourism economy.

The tough new EU rules, due to come into operation in 2015, may lead to the town being labled as having poor quality sea water, leading to a ban on swimming.

Burnham currently holds a Seaside Award from campaign group Keep Britain Tidy, as featured here in May, recognising its high quality of beach facilities and cleanliness.

But several local groups which promote Burnham as a tourist destination are concerned about the impact of the new EU Bathing Waters Directive.

The new rules will see the introduction of higher standards that are approximately twice as stringent as the current requirements.

Beaches will be classed as excellent, good, sufficient or poor - and Burnham is currently on a list of 20 resorts in the south west which may fall short of the new standards.

If Burnham's water is classified as poor, signs would have to be displayed on beaches advising people against bathing, swimming or paddling.

Resident Gaynor Brown from the Town Team has launched a petition calling on the government to opt-out of the regulations.

"I collected 275 signatures in just an hour and a half at the weekend and then ran out of pages, which shows the strength of feeling there is," she told

"Because Burnham is an estuary resort, mud and silt is in the water all the time which weighs against us under the new EU regulations. It would be devastating for Burnham and for anywhere else that has an estuary beach like us even when the sea water itself is clean."

And Burnham Tourist Centre Manager Ian Jefferies from BIARS, right, added: "The EU regulations could hit us badly - they are unrealistic for estuary resorts like Burnham. Nothing will change about our water quality, just the way it is being monitored."

The Environment Agency is currently trying to raise awareness of the new regulatrions and set-up a stand at Sunday's rescue services day in Burnham and also held a sea water sampling demonstration.

"More needs to be done by water companies, businesses, farmers, local authorities and communities to help at risk bathing waters pass the new standards," Nick Malone from the Environment Agency told

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