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Friday, 28 July, 2000, 05:18 GMT 06:18 UK
EU action over dirty beaches
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.
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."
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.