Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Two NI beaches fail EU water test

Bathing water at 24 beaches across Northern Ireland was tested

Two out of 24 beaches in Northern Ireland failed to meet European bathing water quality rules this summer.

The Portrush Curran strand and the Salmon Rock beach in Portballintrae were not up the standard.

A serious pollution incident is being blamed for Portrush. In Portballintrae, the failure has been linked to the sewerage system.

However, Environment Minister Edwin Poots said, given the wet summer, the overall results were encouraging.

"I am also encouraged that 11 of our 24 bathing waters met the guideline standards - an improvement on last year. This more stringent standard is a prerequisite for the coveted Blue Flag Award scheme," he said.

Last year, bathing water at 10 of Northern Ireland's beaches was deemed "excellent", this year 11 beaches are "excellent".

The waters were monitored 20 times over the summer months.

Eleven of the beaches were deemed to have excellent water quality and 11 were deemed to have "good" quality water.

The top 11 were Benone, Downhill, Castlerock, Portstewart, Portrush - West and Whiterocks, Ballycastle, Murlough, Tyrella and the two beaches at Cranfield.

He said heavy rainfalls and unexpected flooding made it difficult to ensured improved water quality.

But he said NI was investing millions in upgrading sewerage systems and farmers were also investing in better ways of storing slurry.

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