I am pleased to report that my campaign for Devil’s Point and Firestone Bay to be officially designated as a bathing water has reached a key milestone, after an official application was submitted to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this week.
As a regular sea swimmer from Devil’s Point, I want to know the quality of the water I’m swimming in. With routine raw sewage discharges into our rivers and seas happening far too often bathing water status is essential for the peace of mind of the thousands of swimmers at Devil’s Point.
If made an official bathing water, the Environment Agency would have to regularly test the water quality of the sea at Devil’s Point, as well as making the results publicly available.
In January this year, I launched petition to make Devil’s Point an official bathing water following reports of regular raw sewage discharge in Britain’s seas and rivers. 1,000 people signed my petition, which I presented to Parliament in March 2022.
In June, over 6,500 swimmers and other water users were counted at the beach as part of the application. Nearly 100 local people volunteered to count swimmers for a two-hour shift, delivering the months’ worth of usage data required by Government for the bathing water application.
Plymouth City Council have been supporting the campaign with the council undertaking surveys of local businesses in support of the application and submitting the final application.
Councillor Bill Wakeham, Cabinet Member for Environment on Plymouth City Council, said:
“I am delighted to add my support to the application for Firestone Bay to become a designated bathing water. If Firestone Bay can be added to Plymouth’s existing designated bathing waters at East and West Hoe, we can hopefully give the people of Plymouth confidence that Devil’s Point is also safe to swim in.
“The Environment Agency would be required to monitor the quality of the water and notify the public taking action if pollution reaches unsafe levels.
“Firestone Bay has long been a popular spot for local swimmers and outdoor sports enthusiasts. It would be reassuring for the water users across the National Marine Park to know that the water quality is monitored so that any instances of contamination, such as after heavy rainfall, can be assessed and evaluated.
“I am also very keen to work with South West Water and the Environment Agency to ensure that water quality entering the River Plym from Plympton and Plymstock meets the same stringent conditions as the water quality entering around Plymouth Hoe.”
Timeline of the major moments in the Devil’s Point campaign in 2022:
- January 2022- campaign launched by Luke Pollard MP
- February 2022 – 1000 people sign a Parliamentary petition calling for Devil’s Point/Firestone Bay to be a bathing water with huge efforts put in by local businesses Devil’s Point Café and Hutong Café collecting signatures.
- March 2022 – Luke presents the Devil’s Point petition to Parliament.
- May 2022 – first water samples taken by Environment Agency at Devil’s Point
- June and August 2022 – nearly 100 volunteers counted thousands of people swimming from Firestone Bay as part of proving the sea is popular for the application.
- August 2022 – Luke Pollard writes to nearby residents to hear their views and shared feedback with councillors. Plymouth City Council writes to local businesses and groups as part of the consultation with businesses required for the application.
- October 2022 – Plymouth City Council submit official bathing water status application for Devil’s Point to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on behalf of the campaign, the city council and Luke Pollard MP.