Bathing sites

Four new bathing sites for outdoor swimmers in England

Four outdoor swimming spots in England will become designated bathing water sites in time for the start of the bathing season in May

Four swimming spots in England will be designated as bathing waters and will soon benefit from regular water-quality monitoring, Water Minister Rebecca Pow announced yesterday.

Following a two-week public consultation, Sykes Lane Bathing Beach and Whitwell Creek at Rutland Water, Firestone Bay in Plymouth, and a section of the River Deben at Waldringfield, Suffolk, will all be officially designated ahead of the 2023 bathing water season. The four new sites will take the total number of bathing waters across the country to 424, the highest recorded.

The Environment Agency will regularly take samples at the newly designated sites during the bathing season, which runs between 15 May and 30 September.

Water Minister Rebecca Pow said, “These popular swimming spots will now undergo regular monitoring, starting this May, so bathers have up-to-date information on the quality of the water. The regular monitoring also means that action can be taken if minimum standards aren’t being met.”

A plan to clean up our waters

Yesterday’s announcement follows the publication last week of the government’s Plan for Water, which sets out the action being taken by government to clean up our waters. These plans include speeding up water companies’ infrastructure upgrades, unlimited fines for water companies dumping raw sewage in rivers, and increased funding for farmers to tackle water pollution.

Last month the government faced criticism after it was revealed that all but one application for river bathing status had been rejected. While part of the River Deben in Suffolk was successful in its application for bathing status, proposals for eight other river sites were declined, with campaigners saying that no explanation has been given for their rejection.

According to the government website, when selecting new sites, “Defra considers how many people bathe there, if the site has suitable infrastructure and facilities, such as toilets, and where investment in water quality improvements following designation would have the most impact. All applications are assessed against these factors and only those that meet these factors are taken forward to public consultation.”

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.