A STRETCH of beach could be declared unfit for bathing after concerns were raised by environmental chiefs.
The Environment Agency regularly monitors water quality but say tougher standards coming in from 2015 have raised fears about a 300ft stretch known as Seaton Carew North, in Hartlepool, which runs from The Green to the slipway opposite Station Lane.
That section passed last year but there are fears it won’t in future because the new standards will be based on four years worth of sampling and in 2012 there was “unusually poor” bathing water quality along that stretch after a period of bad weather.
Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs say they are doing “everything possible” to make sure the beaches meet standards.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “The particularly wet weather in 2012 led to unusually poor bathing water quality and Seaton Carew North failed to meet the standards of the EC Bathing Water Directive for the first time since 1992. The more normal weather in 2013 led to it passing again.
“The Bathing Water Directive has been revised, bringing in tighter standards which will apply from 2015. The classification of bathing waters will also be based on four years’ sampling instead of one year’s sampling.
“Before 2012, our monitoring showed that Seaton Carew North bathing water (as well as Seaton Carew Centre and Seaton Carew North Gare) was expected to comply with the new tighter standards in 2015.
“Because the high results from 2012 will influence compliance under the revised Directive for four years, this now seems unlikely.”
A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the much more stringent European Directive on bathing water quality which comes into force in 2015.
“It’s a well-known fact that heavy rain can have a detrimental effect on water quality but as a council we will continue to work closely with Northumbrian Water, the Environment Agency and other key agencies to do everything possible to try and ensure that our beaches meet the higher standards expected.”