Visiting a beach is an extremely popular pastime for both locals and visitors and the Solent has some excellent beaches on offer. From shingle to sand, resort to rural there is plenty to choose from. One way to ensure that you are visiting a safe, clean beach is to look out for those which have won a Solent Water Quality Award, Seaside Award or Blue Flag Award. The Marine Conservation Society's Good Beach Guide is a good source of information on beaches, their facilities and awards.
The Blue Flag is an international award presented to well-managed beaches with excellent water quality and environmental education programmes. Seaside Awards are presented to the best beaches in England and celebrate the quality and diversity of our coastline.
The Solent Water Quality Award is a local award for beaches attaining a good standard of water quality as laid down by EU standards. The local authority will indicate this by displaying an Award Plaque together with current water quality results at the beach. They may also fly the Solent Water Quality flag.
Every year, the Environment Agency tests bathing waters on a weekly basis from 15 May to 30 September. They are looking for evidence of sewage related bacteria because there is a risk of contracting ear, nose and throat infections as well as stomach upsets through swimming in contaminated water. The quality of the water is judged against set criteria and when the results are good or excellent there is little risk to your health. You can find the latest results on a beach noticeboard, on the Environment Agency's bathing water data explorer or by contacting the relevant local authority.
Vist the Keeping Safe at the Coast: Safety advice campaign for lots of good information. This is a collection of guides by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for staying safe on the UK's beaches and coastlines. The Great British Beach Guide gives detailed information on beaches and their facilities.
Litter is a big issue on many beaches. It can be dangerous to both people and wildlife and is an eyesore spoiling people's enjoyment. It is very important that all beach users clear up after themselves and use the litter bins or recycling facilities provided at the beach or take all their litter home with them.
The Marine Conservation Society's Clean Seas campaign works to reduce marine pollution.