Revealed: England’s cleanest beaches – which county takes the lead?

Advice

More than a third of England’s beaches are safe to bathe in, according to the Blue Flag awards, which has deemed 71 of England’s seashores to be up to standard this year.

The annual status, awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education, bestows a mark of quality on our beaches and indicates that visitors can expect those with a flag to not only be clean with plenty of facilities, but also safe, meeting the highest environmental standards, as well as the most stringent standards for international bathing water.

Keep Britain Tidy, the charity behind the scheme, has been monitoring the cleanliness of English beaches for more than 30 years. Just 12 English beaches achieved a Blue Flag in 1987, when the scheme began. 

Five beaches on that first list were awarded Blue Flags again today – Poole Shore Road/Sandbanks, Porthmeor, Oddicombe, Swanage and Weymouth.

There were also 137 Seaside Awards given out, which recognise beach management but also measure water quality to a European standard, under the Bathing Water Directive. For the full list of winners, mapped, see below.

This year, three councils tied for the most awards (14); Cornwall, Thanet and BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole).

Overall, the south-west swept the board for being the region with the cleanest beaches in England, with 52 winners in total. The south-east followed with 32 awards.

The East Midlands took home the fewest awards, with just two – Humberston Fitties beach and Marine Embankment in Cleethorpes, East Lincolnshire.

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton stated: “We’re incredibly pleased to have even more winners this year than last, proving the great dedication of the beach staff. From environmental education for the local community and ensuring responsible beach use, to cleaning regimes and an increasing number of recycling facilities, it is a full-time commitment to create beaches worthy of the awards.”

Research conducted in association with the organisation put the high number of winners this year down, in part, to what has been dubbed the “Attenborough Effect”. Indeed, more than half of those questioned said Sir David Attenborough’s nature documentaries had encouraged them to personally pick up discarded rubbish on beaches as a result.

Younger generations were largely behind the trend; the average beachgoer aged between 16 and 34 years old will collect three to four items of trash during their trip.

Keen to plan your next British seaside escape? Here are 40 of the best beaches the UK has to offer according to our experts. 

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