2014 Marine Conservation Society Recommended beaches

There are 447 Marine Conservation Society Recommended in the British Isles all of which have met the stringent criteria to qualify

Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) are a charity organisation concerned with protecting the sea and the wildlife it contains. This wide ranging mandate includes everything from promoting sustainable seafood to lobbying for more marine protected areas in the UK. Of course, central to this is fighting to reduce and monitoring levels of pollution around our coasts.

Over one third of Britain’s beaches are adversely affected by pollution from sewers, farming and urban run off. In addition beach litter is deemed to be in excess of acceptable levels with a reported 2,000 pieces of rubbish per kilometre of beach.

To inform and educate, the MCS compiled the Good Beach Guide. This uses data collected by the Environment Agency and other government departments to assess water quality standards at the nation’s beaches. Beaches are then awarded one of the following four standards:

  • MCS recommended - Excellent water quality
  • Guideline - Mandatory bathing water standards were exceeded
  • Mandatory - Mandatory bathing water standards were (just) met
  • Fail - Minimum water quality standard was not achieved

The standards for rating are derived from the European Bathing Water Directive. This is intended to asses the water quality of popular beaches, known as designated bathing waters, with the aim of ensuring public health and protecting the environment.
The primary measure for water cleanliness is the count of certain bacteria in the sample which indicates the presence of sewage and/or animal waste. The minimum requirement is that samples do not exceed 2,000 faecal coliforms per 100ml.

It is worth noting that the times the water samples are collected can affect the result. Storms, floods and heavy rain can lead to short term water pollution, whereas dry weather can improve the water quality.