A cooling dip in the sea at many of England's beaches could soon be a thing of the past, as tough new EU rules on water quality may render some of the country's best-loved seaside spots blacklisted.
According to a new European directive, due to be enforced from May 2015, water safety rules will become twice as stringent, and those that fall below the required level will be placed on an environmental blacklist.
Projections by the Environment Agency suggest that one in ten of England's 400 registered bathing beaches will fail under the new rules. Should that be the case, signposts will be erected advising swimmers not to enter the water.
The Marine Conservation Society's report found just six beaches that would fail under the current tests, but under the proposed new rules, 45 would fail on water quality. In fact, 39 of those that would fail were declared safe by the Marine Conservation Society, and seven were deemed to have 'excellent' water quality by the Good Beach Guide 2014.
Malcolm Bell, of Visit Cornwall, told the Daily Mail: "These changes make it look as though things have got worse. If you have tourism business near one of those beaches it becomes a major issue. The tourists move on, but it is not so easy tom over your business."
Mr Bell added: "Water quality is not static - it depends on the conditions, the weather and events out of your control. A better system would be to have live information on water quality and conditions."
A spokesman for the Environment Agency insists that there had been "major improvements" in water quality in recent years, but said: "Around nine in ten English beaches already meet the higher standards that come into force next year, but we cannot afford to be complacent."
What do you think? Is it unfair to impose such stringent new rules suddenly? Leave your comments below...