TWO Somerset beaches given BROWN flag for poor water quality

As the summer unfolds, you might be scouting for ideal swimming spots in the South West.

Unfortunately, this year, a few of Somerset’s beaches have hit a low note due to significant water quality issues.

Let’s go into what exactly the “Brown Flag” awards are – and which Somerset beaches have earned this undesirable award.

What are the “Brown Flag” awards?

Brown Flag Award 2024

While pristine shores often earn the coveted Blue Flag for their cleanliness, Holiday Park Guru has humorously introduced the “Brown Flag” award for those not making the mark.

This accolade hopes to spur local authorities into action.

Robbie Lane from Holiday Park Guru explains the intent behind this unconventional award:

“We’re aiming to make waves with the debut of England’s ‘Brown Flag Awards’. Our 13 recipients this year truly stand out in their, shall we say, unique qualities. It’s not the kind of recognition you’d want, but here’s hoping it’s a wake-up call.

“We’re offering each winner a complimentary brown flag, complete with a charming poo emoji, though sadly, we can’t stretch to providing a flagpole as well.”

Despite the humorous take, Robbie also commends the 273 English beaches that have achieved the highest water quality standards, including those in neighbouring counties.

How was the data gathered?

Holiday Park Guru analysed the water quality using data from the Environment Agency.

Analysing the period from May 15th to September 30th each year, they highlighted a few underperforming beaches.

What beaches in Somerset were given the “award”?

This year, the less-than-prestigious brown flag has been granted to Weston-super-Mare and Dunster Beach in Somerset.

So, if your summer plans involve swimming, you might consider avoiding these spots!

Sunset Weston Super Mare pier in Somerset

Where else has been awarded the brown flag?

The comprehensive list of this year’s “brown flag” beaches includes:

  • Porthluney (Cornwall)
  • Southsea East (Hampshire)
  • Saint Mary’s Bay (Kent)
  • Littlestone (Kent)
  • Blackpool North (Lancashire)
  • St Annes North (Lancashire)
  • Heacham (Norfolk)
  • Weston-super-Mare (Somerset)
  • Dunster Beach (Somerset)
  • Bognor Regis (Sussex)
  • Tynemouth Cullercoats (Tyne and Wear)
  • Scarborough South Bay (North Yorkshire)
  • Bridlington South Beach (East Riding of Yorkshire)

Robbie’s comments on the matter were clear, “The ‘winners’ are being offered complimentary brown flags with a poo emoji, so if you spot one flying, you might want to steer clear of the water!”

Where is safe to swim in Somerset?

While Somerset has its charm, its beaches aren’t be best for swimming.

Why? The waters are often polluted along the Bristol Channel, and strong tides can make swimming conditions unsafe.

Your best bet for a clean swim is in the Blue Flag beaches of neighbouring Devon and Dorset.

These include:

  • Swanage Beach, Dorset
  • Weymouth Beach, Dorset
  • Dawlish Warren Beach, Devon
  • Croyde Bay, Devon
  • Blackpool Sands, Devon
The rippling waters at Swanage Bay shimmer on a summers day

In fact, Devon and Dorset are the beaches with the highest amount of “excellent” water quality ratings; 81% of Devon’s qualify as “excellent” and 89% of Dorset’s also do!

Despite the challenges some beaches face, Somerset’s a wonderful place to explore, with beautiful landscapes and a rich history just waiting to be discovered – so don’t discount the county!

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