action plan unveiled to improve Burnham's sea water quality
four-step action plan has this week been drawn up to help Burnham-On-Sea
improve its sea water quality and reduce the impact of new EU
bathing water regulations due to come into force from next year.
proposals have been put together during a meeting in Burnham attended
by the region's Member of the European Parliament Julie Girling
along with Conservative parliamentary candidate James Heappey,
town councillor Ken Smout and residents, the Chamber of Trade
and the Environment Agency.
town was recently named as one of 45 UK destinations where sea
swimming could be banned from 2015 when new tougher EU water standards
faces having to put up signs in 2016 marking its beach as unsuitable
for paddling or swimming, which it's feared could hurt local tourism.
And while Burnham's beach was recently awarded
a Seaside Award for its cleanliness and high standards, the
quality of the sea water itself is in the spotlight.
Julie Girling said she would be taking up with Wessex Water
why the firm has not little to help Burnham meet the new guidelines
so far. "We have all known about these new regulations for
the past six years and I think more could have therefore been
done by Wessex Water to address the problem," she told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
FOUR-STEP ACTION PLAN:
The four-step plan is to:
1. Push Wessex Water for improvements to its facilities
in the Burnham area
Launch a policy to encourage residents and businesses
to reduce pollution
Encourage local farmers to address run-off from farmland
Seek government funding to promote Burnham's tourism
industry to offset the issue
added: "Burnham can help itself by addressing the problem
across the community. A 'charter' could be put together to improve
the water standards by everyone working together to reduce pollution
and thinking more about what goes down the drains or is left on
beaches - every single resident and business can play a part in
am hopeful that we can also get extra work carried out by Wessex
Water to help Burnham. We will also be talking to DEFRA about
how they can help farmers ensure run-off from nearby farmland
is reduced to avoid it coming into the estuary."
Environment Agency's Nic Malone says it is working to help Burnham
improve its bathing water standards through good practice. It
is educating firms, residents and farmers about how they can reduce
Heappey said the meeting had been very positive. "It's
really good to get the key representatives together to talk this
issue through and put together a plan of how Burnham can address
the matter. I recently met several Burnham's business representatives
during a visit to Burnham Chamber of Trade and have said I will
do all I can to help."
Mr Heappey also discussed the matter with Liz Truss, the government's
new Environment Secretary, when she visited Somerset this week.
raised the need to help farmers improve the way they hold their
slurry and the management of other agricultural pollutants that
are partly responsible for the water quality issues off Burnham.
asked Liz to prioritise grant applications for farmyard upgrades
from farms that were deemed by the Environment Agency to be in
the parts of the catchment area that most affected bathing water
quality in the town," said Mr Heappey.
is going to ask her Department to look at how that might be achieved
and we will continue to work together to help improve the quality
of Burnhams bathing water."
new EU water quality plans have been featured several times by
Burnham-On-Sea.com in recent years, including
here last October when town councillors expressed 'deep concern'
about the impact of the changes on the tourism industry.
Wessex Water said that it was not asked to attend the meeting
with Julie Girling MEP, councillors and the Environment Agency,
but has since offered to meet Mrs Girling to explain more about
improvements planned for the area.
The company said that investigations showed there were a number
of contributory factors that affected bathing water quality in
the Burnham area and added that to tackle one of the pollution
sources, it was investing around £38m on increasing stormwater
storage, installing UV equipment at sewage works to treat sewage
to an even higher standard as well as installing monitoring equipment.
A company spokesman added: "Although the Directive came
into existence in 2006, the understanding of what the main influences
are on the bathing water at Burnham Jetty has only been arrived
at far more recently. This took a lot of complex modelling work
between the Environment Agency and Wessex Water."
"While the substantial investment we are making will make
a significant difference, there is further work that needs to
be done by other organisations to help improve water quality in
Wessex Water said it is currently designing up engineering solutions
and its work is likely to start around 2016-17.