Burnham bathing water action plan announced

ames Heappey with Julie Girling on Burnham's beach. Photo: Mike Lang.

ames Heappey with Julie Girling on Burnham's beach. Photo: Mike Lang.

First published in News by

COMMUNITY leaders say a major action plan will improve the future of Burnham's bathing water quality and reduce the impact of tough new regulations.

The four-step plan was compiled during a meeting at the Reeds Arms between the area's Member of European Parliament Julie Girling, Conservative parliamentary candidate James Heappey, town councillor Ken Smout, residents, the Chamber of Trade and the Environment Agency.

Currently Burnham's sea water quality looks set to fail tougher European Bathing Water Directive standards in 2015, meaning signs could be put up warning people not to swim there.

While it is unlikely any immediate changes would save Burnham from that fate, the new plan aims to mitigate the impact and ensure Burnham's sea water meets standards in the future.

Cllr Smout told the Weekly News: “It's no use sitting around crying about it - we need to take action and look at the bigger picture.

“We still have marvellous award-winning beaches and if we all work together, we can create a practical approach for the future.

“We're looking at how we can combat things like dog foul, seagulls, overloaded sewerage systems and other contributing factors locally, but also how we can work with farmers and landowners to address spill off from land.

“It's all very positive and it's a glass half-full situation. We need to plan and change things for the better and this meeting has let us look closely at what action we can take.”

He said Ms Girling is currently looking at what funding could be available and will be contacting Wessex Water, appealing for its help.

Ms Girling added: “A 'charter' could be put together to improve the water standards by everyone working together to reduce pollution and thinking more about what goes down the drains or is left on beaches - every single resident and business can play a part in that.

“We will also be talking to DEFRA about how they can help farmers ensure run-off from nearby farmland is reduced to avoid it coming into the estuary.”

Mr Heappey said: “It's really good to get the key representatives together to talk this issue through and put together a plan of how Burnham can address the matter.”

The four-step plan is to:

1. Push Wessex Water for improvements to its facilities in the Burnham area

2. Launch a policy to encourage residents and businesses to reduce pollution

3. Encourage local farmers to address run-off from farmland into rivers

4. Seek government funding to promote Burnham's tourism industry to offset the issue

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