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Beaches: EU Law

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 6 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in transposing the revised Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) into domestic law; and when he expects the provisions of the directive to be fully implemented in the UK. (170432)

England is currently on target to meet the revised bathing water directive's transposition date of 24 March 2008. The revised directive will be fully implemented in England following the 2015 bathing season, when it is proposed that the first bathing water classifications are made.

DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government launched a joint public consultation on 12 November 2007 inviting comments on their proposals for the implementation of the revised bathing water directive in England and Wales. The deadline for consultation responses is 4 February 2008. Further details are available on the DEFRA website.

Comments on the consultation in Wales are a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. Further information on the progress made towards transposing and implementing the directive in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is available from the relevant devolved administration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of English bathing waters met the standards required by the current Bathing Water Directive in each of the last five years. (171186)

The percentage of bathing waters in England complying with the mandatory standards for total and faecal coliforms for the last five years is:

Percentage

2002

98.5

2003

98.8

2004

98.3

2005

98.8

2006

99.5

The figure for 2007 is 97.8 per cent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment has been made of the capability of the Environment Agency to assess bathing water quality using fewer microbiological indicators as proposed in the revised Bathing Water Directive, 2006/7/EC. (171187)

The revised Bathing Water Directive (rBWD), 2006/7/EC, came into force last year and updates and simplifies the current Bathing Water Directive (cBWD), 76/160/EEC, following developments in scientific and technical knowledge over the last 30 years. As a result of these developments, the rBWD, unlike the cBWD, only requires member states to test for two types of bacteria (intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli) to be monitored as the best indicators of the risk of mild gastrointestinal illness in bathers.

The Government have formed a Bathing Water Technical Advisory Group comprising of the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, which will assess the implications of monitoring and analysing the two new microbiological indicators.

The Environment Agency also has an internal project in place which is overseeing the transfer from monitoring requirements under the cBWD to the rBWD, while maintaining a high level of quality assurance.