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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 14:22 GMT
Rain blamed for loss of Blue Flag
Sheringham narrowly missed out on meeting Blue Flag standards
Summer rain has been blamed for a drop in water quality at a north Norfolk beach and washing out its hopes of flying a coveted Blue Flag in 2008.

Water quality samples taken at Sheringham in the summer fell short of the standard required, the government's environment department, Defra, said.

It will be the first time in 15 years that Sheringham will not have a flag.

Cromer, Mundesley and Sea Palling in Norfolk passed the water quality tests and hope to retain their Blue Flags.

Nationally, the number of England's bathing waters meeting the standard needed for a Blue Flag was down from 75% per cent last year to 72.5% this year.

Samples tested

Defra said: "The slight drop in levels this year is likely to be due to the exceptional rainfall over the summer.

"Heavy rainfall can temporarily affect bathing water quality as the flow of water washes pollution into coastal waters and rivers through the sewage network, and increases run-off from farmland and urban streets."

Beaches are tested with 20 samples taken over the season, and 16 of those samples must be excellent to win a Blue Flag.

Sheringham's water tested excellent 15 times and good five times.

Hilary Nelson, North Norfolk District Council cabinet member for tourism, said: "The irony is that, because the 2008 flags are awarded on the basis of water quality in 2007, Sheringham could have the cleanest water next year and just not have the flag to prove it."


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