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Beaches 'clean for EU standards'

Cleanliness of beaches in England and Wales has improved considerably over the past 10 years, making them clean enough to meet the highest European standards, the Environment Agency (EA) has said.

Around 97% of bathing locations had "excellent" water quality, compared with 76% a decade ago, tests conducted by the EA found.

However, the results could change over the summer with more rains, as the tests took into consideration early season samples, the agency said.

The agency conducts water tests at 494 locations every week to measure pollution levels between May and September each year.

The highest quality tests have been cleared by 479 sites so far this year. While 14 other beaches were rated as "good", Staithes in North Yorkshire received a "poor" grading as it failed to meet mandatory standards due to high levels of bacteria from sewage and livestock waste.

The EA said the good results were achieved due to the recent good weather, pollution-reduction actions and tighter regulation of sewer overflows.

It said water companies were investing £4bn in environmental improvements to help raise bathing water quality even more over the next five years to meet more stringent EU standards coming into force in 2015.

Also check this blog on Europe's top 25 beaches named by Tripadvisor members.

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