Record number of wild swimming spots across England designated as bathing sites

A record number of wild swimming spots have been designated as bathing spots in England.

The Environment Agency will start monitoring the water quality at 27 proposed sites which span across locations in the UK from Devon and Oxfordshire to Cumbria.

The new additions bring the total number of sites for the water bathing season - which runs from 15 May to 30 September 2024 - to 451 across England.

But being designated as a bathing site does not guarantee the water will be clean.

The Environment Agency takes water samples to assess whether action is needed to cut pollution levels and works with local communities, farmers and water companies to improve water quality.

Last year, 96% of bathing waters met the minimum standard of sufficient, with 90% meeting either good or excellent, according to the Environment Agency. Eighteen bathing waters were classified as poor.

In England, there has been growing public anger over the state of rivers and coastal waters, which suffer pollution from sewage outlets and other sources such as agricultural run-off.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said on Monday the government is planning to launch a consultation later this year on proposals to reform bathing water regulations in England.

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This includes proposing changes to drive improvements to water quality at bathing spots, enhance monitoring, and enable more flexibility around the dates of the monitoring season.

DEFRA said it will also seek public and stakeholder views on extending the definition of "bathers" to include non-swimmers including rowers, kayakers and paddle boarders.

Water minister Robbie Moore said he is "fully committed" to seeing the quality of England's coastal waters, rivers and lakes rise further for the benefit of the environment and everyone who uses them".

He said he was "pleased" to approve the new bathing sites, which he said "provide social, physical and positive health and wellbeing benefits to people around the country".