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Swim England calls on Government to classify more sites as bathing waters

Swim England has written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in support of more stretches of water being officially classified as bathing waters.

The department is currently consulting on granting official bathing water status to the following locations:

  • Sykes Lane Bathing Beach and Whitwell Creek on Rutland Water
  • the River Deben at Waldringfield in Suffolk;
  • Firestone Bay, Plymouth

Swim England has written in full support of all four applications.

The national governing body is pushing for hundreds of new bathing waters as such a designation is important to help send a clear message that our rivers, lakes and waters are there for people to enjoy and are a legitimate place for people to be swimming.

Additionally, the designation of bathing water status can also act as a catalyst for seeing improvements to water quality through increased testing and a greater focus on the quality of the water at bathing water locations.

Incredibly disappointing

With water quality and concerns about pollution having rapidly risen up the agenda in recent times, more attention to this issue at the sites under consideration for designation, and all our waters, would be most welcome.

However, whilst it is a positive step that these potential new bathing waters have made it through to the consultation stage, there is bad news as well.

DEFRA rejected a further eight applications for bathing water status from river sites.

Phil Brownlie, Swim England head of public affairs, said: “With only 14 per cent of rivers in England considered to be at ‘Good Ecological Status’, and only two inland sites currently classed as bathing waters, the need for more inland bathing waters is clear.

“This decision is therefore incredibly disappointing and flies in the face of the government’s stated aim of increasing the number of bathing waters. 

“There is a worrying lack of clarity around the reasons for sites being rejected and we have also called for the application system to be simplified.”

If you would like to add your voice in support of the sites currently under consideration for bathing water status before the consultation closes on 24 March, you can email 

Swim England has provided a template submission which is available by clicking here.