Community praised for effort to keep Sidmouth beaches ‘excellent’

Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 27 19TI 7138. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 27 19TI 7138. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Eco-friendly volunteers, businesses and organisations have been praised for helping Sidmouth’s beaches retain its ‘excellent’ water bathing rating.

Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 27 19TI 7138. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth beach. Ref shs 27 19TI 7138. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Both the Jacobs Ladder and the town beaches received the highest classification following tests from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Ian Barlow, chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, praised the community for helping to keep the beaches clean.

Across East Devon, seven of eight beaches owned by East Devon District Council (EDDC) achieved 'excellent' ratings for water bathing quality.

Defra published the results on Wednesday, November 13, with Sidmouth Town, Jacob's Ladder, Seaton, Beer, Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth all rated 'excellent'.

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The privately-owned Sandy Bay and Ladram Bay beaches were rated 'excellent' and 'good' respectively.

It is the best result for Devon and Cornwall since new standards were introduced in 2015.

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Councillor Barlow said: "I think Sidmouth in Bloom and the Sidcombers, Denise Bickley and the plastic warriors along with Sidmouth Surf Lifesaving Club and Jurassic Paddle Sports and the community generally have helped hugely in keeping the beaches clean which must help the water quality.

"East Devon District Council, the county council, the Environment Agency (EA) and South West Water (SWW) must also be congratulated in this as ultimately it is their responsibility. We all criticise SWW and the EA for flooding leaks, so perhaps a bit of praise should be given to them."

He said the town council's environment committee, led by councillors Denise Bickley and Chris Lockyear, were working on a blue flag bid for the town and would take it to 'another level' if achieved.

The new 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 over the previous four years.

Speaking last Wednesday, Ed Mitchell, South West Water's director of environment, said: "We know how highly our customers value the region's beaches, which is why we've invested so heavily in protecting and improving bathing water over the years, so we're delighted with today's announcement."

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