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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
UK beach hygiene hailed in report
Deckchairs on a beach
EU states must report on the quality of their beaches every year
British beaches are among the cleanest in Europe for the quality of their bathing water, according to a report.

The study found just two of the UK's 567 coastal bathing areas - Aberafan, south Wales, and Staithes, Scarborough - failed to meet EU standards.

Hampstead Heath "ladies' pond" was the only one of the 11 British freshwater sites not to make the grade.

The European Commission requires EU member nations to report on beach water quality every year.

Lakes and rivers

Reijo Kemppinen, head of the European Commission office in London, said: "Coming just before the bathing season begins the report provides useful water quality information for UK bathers, as well as for the many tourists who visit Britain's beaches every summer."

The report found more than 96% of coastal areas across the EU met the standards, and there was a figure of nearly 89% for freshwater areas such as lakes and rivers.

All six places covered in Gibraltar were up to scratch.

Some 14,345 coastal and 6,749 freshwater locations were monitored for the study for 2006, which can be found on the European Commission website.

Sites withdrawn

The report is the first time information for bathing water hygiene has been compared for 25 EU member states.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said he was concerned that countries had removed some beaches from the list to be monitored.

"Despite these encouraging results I am very concerned by the number of bathing sites withdrawn from the list. Removing sites from the list because they are polluted is not a solution," he said.

"Member states must instead draw up plans for cleaning up these polluted sites".

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