For the third-year running, all of Cornwall’s beaches have passed tough bathing water quality standards, according to figures published by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs today.

And it’s good news in Devon too, where 96% of beaches have passed.

The overall pass rate of 98.7% for Devon and Cornwall in 2018 is the region’s best-ever results.

Of the 150 designated bathing waters in Devon and Cornwall just two – Combe Martin and Ilfracombe (Wildersmouth) in Devon – have been rated as ‘poor’ under new standards introduced in 2015, which are twice as tough as in previous years.

Malcolm Bell, chairman of the BeachWise Forum for the South West and chief executive of Visit Cornwall, welcomed the results.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see all Cornwall’s beaches pass these tougher tests with flying colours, with Devon not far behind.

“This year is the fourth time that the results have been reported against the new standards. As well the region’s best results to date this is the third consecutive year that 100% of Cornwall’s beaches have made the grade.

“An extra eight Cornish beaches were tested this year and all of them have been rated ‘excellent’.

“Bathing waters are much cleaner and have continually improved since 1990 when just 27% met European water quality standards. This is thanks to massive efforts by Defra, the Environment Agency, water companies, councils, local communities, farmers and environmental organisations.”

The new regulations classify bathing waters as excellent, good, sufficient or poor, based on the level of bacteria in the water as monitored by the Environment Agency between May and September. Up to four years of results from 2015 to 2018 are combined to indicate water cleanliness.

In accordance with the regulations, signs advising against bathing will be in place at the two ‘poor’ beaches in Devon when next year’s bathing season begins in May.

Bell added: “The beaches rated as poor are still open for people to enjoy, but it’s really important that all the organisations and the local communities involved continue to play their part to improve and protect bathing water quality.”

Bathing water quality can be affected by many factors including rainwater running off roads and roofs, run-off from agricultural land, water company infrastructure, sewage from privately owned treatment works and septic tanks, boats or even animals such as dogs or seabirds on the beach. This can be made worse by heavy rain.

To co-ordinate efforts to keep our beaches and bathing waters clean, and to share best practice, a BeachWise coastal community partnership was formed in the South West in 2016.  It aims to promote safe, enjoyable fun on the beach.  For information visit:

To view the full list of bathing water ratings, click here.