Worthing seeks better coastal waters despite late application changes

Released: Friday, 28 July 2023

Worthing is to continue its pursuit of cleaner coastal waters despite key late changes by the government to the bathing water application process.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing's Cabinet Member for the Environment, insists the town is determined to achieve not one, but two new designated bathing water areas this year in a move to bring increased water quality testing to the borough's coastline.

Worthing Borough Council and its team of citizen scientists have been hard at work over the summer gathering data for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to seek better protection for the stretch of shores opposite Beach House Grounds and Sea Lane in Goring.

However, the Council was surprised to learn from Defra earlier this month - seven weeks into the bathing season - that the criteria for this year's applications were being changed.

Applications now require evidence of at least 100 bathers on two separate days at the specific sites, whereas no specific figure or time frame over the summer was previously stated. Photographs of unidentifiable visitors using the beach are now also required.

The changes mean that much of the work done by the Council and its team of volunteers - during a hotter period when Worthing's coastline was packed with bathers - is of no use in the application process.

At designated bathing water areas the Environment Agency is required to test the seawater for bacteria, which can identify sources of pollution. This helps hold polluters to account and means water quality should be improved.

Worthing currently has one bathing water zone at Heene Road, from Western Place to Sea View Road.

Cllr Wells said:

“It's hugely disappointing that Defra changed the bathing water criteria seven weeks into the bathing season, leaving us and our dedicated volunteers with quite a lot to do before the end of the summer.

“Rest assured we won't give up on the designations for East Beach in Worthing and West Beach in Goring, and have collectively adapted our approach to accommodate the new criteria ensuring we create two strong applications, which we hope will be very difficult to refuse. I want to thank all of our volunteers for their patience and resilience to this challenge, they are all fantastic and more determined than ever to help Worthing achieve these new designations and keep our coastal water clean.”

The disappointment around the late changes come after last year's application for the section of shore opposite Beach House Grounds was rejected by Defra.

After seeking clarification, the Council was eventually informed that the bather numbers recorded at that site were insufficient - despite Defra having not specified a threshold for a successful application.

The Council is now in the process of adapting its surveys to ensure the right evidence is collected before the two applications are submitted later this year.

Two consultations have also been launched by the Council to seek feedback on the proposed designation of the two sites. Any information the public can provide will help the Council in their applications.

To find out more on the designation and complete the short questionnaire, see:

Photo: The stretch of coastline opposite Beach House Grounds in Worthing

Worthing Beach (looking east) - opposite Beach House Grounds

Photo: Goring Beach looking east towards Worthing Pier

Goring Beach looking east towards Worthing Pier

(PR23-105)

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Page last updated: 20 February 2024

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