Councillors have vowed to continue their fight to protect Worthing’s coastline from pollution after Defra refuses more designated bathing.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has written to Worthing Borough Council denying its recent application for a second designated section of bathing water. Getting bathing water status would bring increased protection for the seawater along the town’s coastline.
The application focused on the section of shore opposite Beach House Grounds and, if agreed, would have seen the Environment Agency undertake regular bacterial testing of the local seawater.
This information helps identify locations and sources of pollution, compelling polluters including Southern Water to repair infrastructure or faulty plumbing to stop the leaks that threaten Worthing’s marine ecosystem.
Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said she was incensed with Defra’s decision and pledged to continue to push for tougher checks to ensure the sea can be enjoyed safely by locals and visitors alike.
The Council is awaiting a detailed explanation from Defra as to why its application was rejected as none has currently been provided.
Gathering of data needed for a third, separate bathing water application will go ahead as planned for the popular section of beach opposite Sea Lane in Goring.
Cllr Wells said:
“I am devastated to hear that like many other Bathing Water Designation applications made across the entire country - Defra has selected only four for further consultation. The fact that only one of these four is for a river - speaks volumes about the attitude of this government and their systematic attack on nature.
“Once again, I’d like to thank the incredible work of Worthing’s dedicated volunteers and Council officers who made our initial application possible. This decision will not prevent our fantastic community and dedicated Council from proceeding with further applications as intended to ensure we have not one, but three Bathing Designations to monitor the water quality across the entire Worthing foreshore.
“When Defra goes low, we go back to the beach and count swimmers, bodyboarders, kitesurfers, kayakers and paddlers.”
If you would like to be involved as a citizen scientist to help gather data for either of the Council’s upcoming bathing water applications, please contact [email protected]
The Council is committed to ensuring Southern Water does more to identify sewer misconnections and prevent uncertified discharges into the sea.
In a move to try to improve the situation, representatives of more than 40 councils across the South East met last month to discuss how they can better hold the water company to account over its failures.