Five swimming spots across East Lancashire and Cumbria are set to be designated as bathing water sites ahead of the warmer months.

The spots, which include the River Ribble at Edisford Bridge in the Ribble Valley, will also benefit from regular water quality monitoring, the Water Minister revealed this week as part of the government’s plan to improve water quality across the country.

Subject to a two-week consultation, the Edisford Bridge site, and sites at the Coniston Boating Centre, Coniston Brown Howe, Monk Coniston, and Derwent Water in Cumbria will benefit from regular water monitoring from the 2024 bathing water season, which runs between May 15 and September 30.

These new bathing waters are three of 27 new swimming spots expected to be designated across England.

If designated, sites will receive regular water monitoring from the Environment Agency, which will investigate pollution sources and identify steps to be taken in response, which could include actions by water companies, farmers and others.

All residents, bathers, businesses, and organisations are invited to have their say before the consultation closes on March 10, 2024.

Water minister Robbie Moore said: “Many people enjoy spending time in our rivers, lakes, and coastal beaches, and I am thrilled to see five new bathing water sites proceeding to consultation in Cumbria and Lancashire alone.

“I want to continue to improve the quality of our bathing waters, which is why we are taking action across the board to drive up standards and hold water companies to account.

“I encourage all local communities and organisations with an interest to take part in this consultation and have their say.”  

Last year, 96 per cent of bathing waters in England met minimum standards and 90 per cent of bathing waters in England were rated as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, up from 76 per cent in 2010, despite the classification standards becoming stricter in 2015.

The government also updated its guidance last year to make the application process clearer and easier to follow.

This will build on recent moves by the government aimed at improve to the water environment, including:

  • Announcing a ban on bonuses for water company executives whose firms have committed serious criminal breaches – subject to Ofwat consultation. 
  • Quadrupling the Environment Agency’s regulatory capacity – allowing them to carry out 4,000 water company inspections by the end of the next financial year.
  • Requiring companies to monitor 100 per cent of storm overflows in England - providing a complete picture of when and where sewage spills happen.   
  • Removing the cap on civil penalties for water companies and broadening their scope so swifter action can be taken against those who pollute our waterways.   
  • Requiring the largest infrastructure programme in water company history - £60 billion over 25 years – to revamp aging assets and reduce the number of sewage spills by hundreds of thousands every year.    
  • Increasing protections for coastal and estuarine waters by expanding the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan, prioritising bathing waters, sites of special scientific interest and shellfish waters.     
  • Providing £10 million in support for farmers to store more water on their land through the Water Management Grants to support food production and improve water security.    
  • Speeding up the process of building key water supply infrastructure, including more reservoirs and water transfer schemes.

The sites being considered for designation in Lancashire and Cumbria are:  

  • Coniston Boating Centre, Coniston Water, Cumbria  
  • Coniston Brown Howe, Coniston Water, Cumbria  
  • Monk Coniston, Coniston Water, Cumbria    
  • River Ribble at Edisford Bridge, Lancashire 
  • Derwent Water, Crow Park, Keswick, Cumbria 

You can have your say in the consultation by following this link:

The sites being considered for designation across the rest of England are:  

  • Church Cliff Beach, Lyme Regis, Dorset 
  • Coastguards Beach, River Erme, Devon 
  • Littlehaven Beach, Tyne and Wear 
  • Manningtree Beach, Essex   
  • River Avon at Fordingbridge, Hampshire 
  • River Cam at Sheep’s Green, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire  
  • River Dart Estuary at Dittisham, Devon  
  • River Dart Estuary at Steamer Quay, Totnes, Devon  
  • River Dart Estuary at Stoke Gabriel, Devon  
  • River Dart Estuary at Warfleet, Dartmouth, Devon  
  • River Frome at Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset 
  • River Nidd at the Lido Leisure Park in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire   
  • River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire  
  • River Severn at Shrewsbury, Shropshire  
  • River Stour at Sudbury, Suffolk 
  • River Teme at Ludlow, Shropshire  
  • River Tone in French Weir Park, Taunton, Somerset 
  • Wallingford Beach, River Thames, Berkshire   
  • River Wharfe at Wetherby Riverside, West Yorkshire 
  • Goring Beach, Worthing, West Sussex 
  • Worthing Beach House, Worthing, West Sussex 
  • Rottingdean Beach, Rottingdean, East Sussex