A record number of UK beaches have been recommended for their excellent water quality, after the driest weather in a decade sharply reduced storm pollution.
Eastbourne's popular Western Parade was recommended
Of 800 bathing beaches tested weekly between May and September last year, the annual Good Beach Guide recommends 507 - up on the previous record of 453.
Publishers the Marine Conservation Society said England and Wales's driest spell since 1995 had cut sea pollution.
The number of beaches below the legal water quality standard fell 42% to 30.
The environmental charity's coastal pollution officer Thomas Bell said: "Britain's beaches have definitely bounced back from the relative low of summer 2004, which was one of the wettest on record.
"Water companies have also invested heavily in waste-water management systems during the past 10 years."
The biggest improvements were in north-east England, where 44 out of 66 beaches were recommended - up 69%, followed by Wales, with 120 out of 185 - up 32%, and south-east England, with 107 out of 137 - up 26%.
Two of Tynemouth's beaches were among those recommended
Northern Ireland saw a 33% increase, with eight out of 27 beaches recommended.
But Scotland, where rainfall was above average through 2005, had the same number of beaches recommended as last year - 50 out of 117.
The Good Beach Guide also provides information on lifeguard cover, facilities, activities, access, parking, transport and maps.
The guide is one of four beach 'award' schemes in the UK but is the only one focusing entirely on water quality standards and the risk of sewage pollution.
The other initiatives which rate beaches are the European Blue Flag scheme, Seaside Awards and the Green Coast Awards.
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