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West Norfolk bathing water tests delayed by Covid-19

Following concerns being expressed over West Norfolk bathing water earlier this year, sampling has been delayed due to Covid-19.

West Norfolk councillors have re-iterated their concerns after the Environment Agency said it expects to restart bathing water monitoring towards the end of July.

Government guidelines have meant routine bathing water sampling was suspended before the start of the 2020 season.

Hunstanton's beach is a popular destination when the sun is shining at this time of the year
Hunstanton's beach is a popular destination when the sun is shining at this time of the year

It comes after West Norfolk councillors heard samples at Old Hunstanton beach worsened in 2019 according to samples analysed.

Senior environment officer John Daniels previously said the main Hunstanton beach slightly improved for bathing water samples in 2019 with the overall classification for Heacham and Hunstanton Main being ‘sufficient’.

A spokesman for the EA said the sampling pause will not impact the bathing water quality this summer, which he described as being of a high standard in England.

He added: “As part of our preparations we will consider what coverage of monitoring will be possible, taking into consideration the latest social distancing guidelines and ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and the public.

“Regulatory work continues and pollution prevention measures such as conditions in permits for discharges affecting bathing waters still apply.”

But West Norfolk councillor councillor Paul Beal, who represents Hunstanton, questioned why water samples had to be put on hold.

He said: “What has Covid got to do with it? Everything is being used as an excuse. People can still go to supermarkets and shops, so why can’t they take samples?”

Mr Beal added that he has made requests to the council regarding industrial waste and the water quality on the coast, but he said nothing has been done about it.

Sandra Squire, who also raised concerns during a committee meeting earlier this year, said: “So many people are using the beach and need to have an idea of the water quality. Even if we knew the results, it will not put some people off but it would help because there would be an alert in place.

“When these sort of things are brought up in meetings, it does not necessarily mean there will be action unless we chase it up. It can be solely for discussion.”

She also raised concern over a new interactive map released by the Rivers Trust which shows sewage discharges in the River Great Ouse and Gaywood River.

Ms Squire said: “It is actually quite shocking how much sewage goes into the river. It is totally unacceptable in this day and age.”

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