Lancashire residents planning a day out to Blackpool will in future be warned about the quality of the bathing water.

From 2015, beaches will be subjected to much tougher standards and signs advising of the state of the sea will have to be placed on the coast.

Some traders have raised concerns that the new European Union rules will put visitors off going to the resort.

But tourists and families have said they would rather be told if it was not safe to go for a swim.

Last year, 42 beaches, including two in Blackpool, failed to meet the minimum requirements for bathing.

The North West coast is the worst performing area in the country.

As part of the new testing, the Environment Agency will be looking for bacteria, which give an indication as to how polluted the water is.

A sample is taken from 30cm, or 12 in, under the water and is then sent to a laboratory to see how dirty the sea is.

Each area will then be classified as excellent, good, sufficient or poor.

In parts where the water is determined to be poor, the Environment Agency will put up signs advising swimmers not to go into the sea.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The new thresholds are based on better science as we move forward

“The old directive was in 1970.

“There will be signs going up saying whether the water is classified as excellent, good, sufficient or poor.”