Come on BBC NI give us the bad news on our beaches…?

So, here’s what the listeners to Radio 4 got this morning on the new Good Beach guide report, picking out Northern Ireland as a noteable weak point in the overall UK figures…

Then this from BBC NI… Northern Ireland beaches’ water quality ‘acceptable’… Clearly good news elsewhere has meant lots of detail on a general improvement which (tellingly perhaps) relies on a drop in rainfall and a concomitant in the total outflow from surface water sewage…

This is certainly bad news from a tourist point of view (even if there is a nugget of good in there for Newcastle), but it also hints at further structural problems in the water system, which clearly need to be addressed…

Like the proverbial falling tree in the forest, if sees it then it hasn’t happened…

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  • Charles_Gould

    To what extent are the water companies responsible? I believe this is the case.

    If so, then to what extent is NI Water, which comes under Danny Kennedy, in need of a massive criticism? NI Water actually has a bad track record and this may well add to it.

  • Mick Fealty

    But not if nobody knows…

  • Reader

    Charles_Gould: If so, then to what extent is NI Water, which comes under Danny Kennedy, in need of a massive criticism?
    NI Water appears to be very busy indeed (multiple links to multiple construction sites starting on the following page):

  • Delphin

    It’s hardly a secret Mick. The quality data is on the MCS and NIEA websites.
    Bathing water quality is not only affected by sewage but by agricultural run-off and poorly maintained private septic tanks.

  • Can we place much reliance on the BBC or the Good Beach Guide? I put in the postcode for one of my local strands, White Park Bay Strand, BT54 6NH and strands up to a distance of 20 miles away. GBG failed to locate the postcode accurately – Ballycastle is definitely more than 1 mile away!

    Here are some figures for Ballycastle’s Margy Strand:

    2014: Mandatory
    2013: MCS Recommended
    2012: Guideline
    2011: Guideline
    2010: Guideline
    2009: Mandatory

    Beach awards 2013 Seaside award

    There’s a wild fluctuation in these results despite no changes to the infrastructure during this period.

    There are very clean looking strands at Bushfoot [just east of Portballintrae] and White Park Bay [half-way between Bushmills and Ballycastle] but neither of these feature in the list!

    So it’s a definite thumbs down to the BBC and the GBG 🙂

  • cynic2

    “Northern Ireland beaches’ water quality ‘acceptable’ ”

    I qam unsure if the appropriate remark is ‘shit’ nor ‘no shit’

  • cynic2


    Is NI water responsible for, for example,

    * fertiliser run off into waterways
    * dead animals dumped or buried on farms where watercourses that run into rivers in coastal areas

  • Charles_Gould


    I know that the quality of water in the beaches is the responsibility of the privatized water companies in England and Wales.

    Its interesting that people criticized these privatizations, but also interesting that the state body NI Water is not doing as well in terms of keeping sewage off beaches.

  • Harry Flashman

    I am always very sceptical of these reports especially when they say UK beaches are dirtier than anywhere else in Europe (as they frquently claim).

    Who conducts the research? Why environmental officials of course, whose jobs and funding depend on there being an environmental problem that only they can sort out. Thus they will pore over the beaches determined to convince us how filthy they all are and how they need more “resources” to solve the problem (which they never will of course, in the same way that the anti-poverty and anti-racism lobby will every year tell us how much worse the problem is getting).

    My cynicism dates back a few years while on holiday in Italy. I was on a beach that proudly flew its blue flag telling the world how clean this particular beach was. I well remember the grey cloudy murk that I suddenly found myself swimming in that had a distinctly familiar smell when the tide turned one afternoon.

    A few weeks later I was strolling along Magiligan Strand, the great white breakers were rolling in fresh and green from the North Atlantic pounding on the white sand. There was of course bits of detritus washed up by the sea, the flotasm and jetsam that is a feature of our seas today but the water was clear and fresh.

    The next day I heard the shocking news that Magiligan had been found to be dirty and was likely to lose its blue-flag status, it was part of a general report on the disgusting nature of British beaches complied by British environmental officers. I noted on further investigation that their Italian colleagues had passed all that nation’s beaches with flying colours.

    I have been a sceptic ever since.

  • Delphin

    CG, the position in the UK is that the local water company is responsible for sewage related issues impacting bathing waters, the responsibility for bathing water quality lies with the regulator ie The Environment Agency in England and Wales, SEPA in Scotland and the NIEA in N. Ireland, so it has been a SDLP responsibility this last while.
    How do you know the problems with the beaches are not down to agriculture?

    Below is a link to bathing water quality in NI