‘More should be done on Staithes beach’ – councillor

Coun John Armsby
Coun John Armsby

A BOROUGH councillor has called for more to be done after Staithes beach failed its water quality checks once again.

The Whitby Gazette reported on Tuesday that an online report by the Environment Agency (EA) said the village’s sands were one of 10 out of 493 bathing waters which failed across the country.

The EA also published a beach profile for Staithes and others across the country, which explains what forms of pollution the beach suffers from and identifies the discharge points.

The report said: “Staithes beck flows across Staithes bathing beach mixing with seawater in the harbour area before ebbing out to sea with the tide.

“Water quality in Staithes Beck has a direct influence on bathing water quality. After heavy rainfall, there is an increase in polluted run-off from agricultural farmlands in the catchment.

“This may sometimes result in reduced water quality in the streams at the beach.”

The Environment Agency has been working closely with Yorkshire Water since 1998 to identify and deliver what it says has been “significant investment” in the sewerage infrastructure around Staithes beach.

The EA has also been working with farmers to reduce the effects on water quality and says its research suggests that a “major factor” on bathing water quality at Staithes is pollution from agricultural farmland as there are a number of farms in the Staithes catchment.

The report adds: “There are no outfalls directly into the bathing area.

“However, there are four outfalls near the bathing water.

“One storm overflow and one surface water outfall are located next to the slipway with another storm overflow discharging to Staithes Beck and an emergency overflow discharging into the harbour.

“The operation of the emergency overflow may sometimes result in reduced bathing water quality.

“The emergency overflow has been designed to operate only under severe weather conditions and when there are problems with the sewerage network system. We do not expect this outfall to impact on bathing water compliance.”

Borough councillor John Armsby, who represents the Mulgrave Ward which includes Staithes, said: “It certainly isn’t Staithes’ fault.

“People are not happy about it.

“It’s very difficult to blame agricultural run-off and until they do some proper DNA testing, we don’t know whether it is or isn’t human.

“I don’t really think Yorkshire Water want to find out.

“Someone obviously isn’t doing enough, in the end it’s down to Yorkshire Water.”

Coun Armsby said since rock enforcement work was done on Staithes harbour it gets very little scouring as Staithes is a closed-in harbour and the sea doesn’t come in with a rush compared to places like Sandsend.

He added last time water quality tests were done at Staithes, eight out of the 10 samples taken were “good.”

But Coun Armsby said not de-designating Staithes as a beach, which would mean it wouldn’t be included in the figures released by Yorkshire Water, was not a good idea.

“If you stop it being classed as a beach they won’t publish the results at all,” he said.

“We need to keep working away at it.”

All bathing water profiles will be reviewed and updated by May 2012.