Could Brexit affect beach water quality? | BBC News

“Environmentalists fear ‘Brexit’ could see European rules on water cleanliness being undermined. But could leaving the EU result in filthy coastlines and smelly beaches? Until recent decades, swimming in the sea off the coast of Britain could be a perilous and unhealthy activity. “We were frequently surfing in poo,” says Steve Crawford, who remembers the seas off Cornwall in the 1970s and 1980s and is now a member of the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage. “Back then, sewage just went straight to sea. There was no treatment – it was just basically chopped and sent, not even that far out [to sea],” he adds. “We were called the ‘dirty man of Europe’.” That the situation is different now is largely due to EU legislation, he believes. Since 1976 the UK has been subject to the EU’s Bathing Water Directive (BWD), which gave member states 10 years to meet certain water quality standards in bathing areas.”

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