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The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Environmentalists are delighted with the court action"
 real 56k

Friday, 28 July, 2000, 05:18 GMT 06:18 UK
EU action over dirty beaches
Busy UK beach
Some of Britain's beaches are still among Europe's dirtiest
The UK is to be taken to the European Court of Justice for failing to keep its beaches clean.

The move follows the publication in May of a report by the European Commission, which named 47 beaches where the water was too polluted for safe swimming.

They include 15 in Cornwall and Devon, seven in Scotland and three of Blackpool's beaches.


We are serious about ensuring bathing water quality compliance in all member states

Margot Wallstrom
The Department of the Environment is disappointed at the move, saying the commission failed to take into account a substantial clean-up operation currently under way.

While it admitted improvements were needed, it said bathing water quality in the UK had never been better.

The European Commission has frequently reprimanded Britain for the poor quality of its bathing water.

'Dirty man of Europe'

Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said: "We are serious about ensuring bathing water quality compliance in all member states."

Damian Green
Damian Green: "John Prescott dirty man of Europe"
News of the move will be a blow to the UK's tourism industry at the start of the summer holidays.

Shadow environment spokesman Damian Green said Labour had to take responsibility for failing to clean up Britain.

"John Prescott has been fingered as the dirty man of Europe," he said.

The Bathing Water Quality Directive, which came into force in 1985, aims to ensure that bathing waters meet a minimum quality criteria across the EU.

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27 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
British beaches 'improving'
31 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Eight NI beaches win blue flags
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