Bathing waters score a 100% pass

All Cornwall’s beaches have made the grade against tough new bathing water quality standards, according to figures published by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs.

And it’s great news in Devon as well, where nearly 97% of beaches have passed.

Of the 143 designated bathing waters assessed in Devon and Cornwall just two - Instow and Ilfracombe (Wildersmouth) in Devon - have been rated as ‘poor’ under the new standards, which are twice as tough as in previous years.  

Malcolm Bell, Chairman of the BeachWise Forum for the South West and Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall, welcomed the results.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see all Cornwall’s beaches pass these tougher tests with flying colours, with Devon not far behind.  

“Thanks to massive efforts over the last twenty years by Defra, the Environment Agency, water companies, councils, local communities, farmers and environmental organisations bathing water quality is better than ever.

“This is only the second time that the results have been reported against tougher new European Union standards introduced in 2015.

“Bathing waters are much cleaner and have continually improved since 1990 when just 27% met European water quality standards.”

The new EU regulations classify bathing waters as excellent, good, sufficient or poor based on the level of bacteria in the water as monitored by the Environment Agency between May and September. Up to four years of results from 2013 to 2016 are combined to indicate water cleanliness.

In accordance with the EU directive, signs issuing ‘advice against bathing’ will be remain in place at the two ‘poor’ beaches in Devon when next year’s bathing season begins in May.

Malcolm added: “The beaches rated as poor have another four years to improve so it’s really important that all the organisations and the local communities involved continue to play their part to improve bathing water quality.”

Bathing water quality can be affected by many factors including rainwater running off roads and roofs, run-off from agricultural land, water company infrastructure, sewage from privately owned treatment works and septic tanks, boats or even animals such as dogs or seabirds on the beach. This can be made worse by heavy rain.

To view the full list of bathing water ratings, visit