Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 11:36 UK

Suffolk beaches off quality list

Felixstowe beachfront
Felixstowe failed to meet European water quality standards

Two beaches on the Suffolk coast have lost their Blue Flag status in the annual Keep Britain Tidy awards for water quality.

Southwold Pier Beach and Felixstowe South failed to retain the award.

Felixstowe is appealing the decision claiming a technical problem with a sample taken for testing thwarted its chances of flying the flag.

Lowestoft South of Claremont Pier and Lowestoft North of Claremont Pier have kept their Blue Flag awards.

Suffolk Coastal District Council is appealing against the decision of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in Copenhagen.

High quality

The council said: "The internationally-recognised Blue Flag needs nearly 30 different criteria to be met and Felixstowe South met all of those but there was a gap last summer of three days longer than allowed between water tests while the beach was closed to the public."

Dr Douglas Wilson, the Environment Agency's head of monitoring and modelling, said: "We have provided supporting evidence, in the absence of a valid sample, which in our opinion demonstrates clearly that the water quality was good.

"Based on statistical analysis the bathing water quality is amongst the best in the country.

"I understand FEE's need to maintain the integrity of Blue Flags as a mark of quality for bathing waters. However, we would ask in the light of the supporting evidence, which clearly demonstrates the high water quality, that a Blue Flag is awarded."

Lowestoft South of Claremont Pier and Lowestoft North of Claremont Pier have kept their Blue Flag awards. Overall, the number of beaches in England to win Blue Flags has dropped from 82 in 2008 to 71 this year.

Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "The small drop is largely due to flooding. There's nothing anybody can do about that."



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