Proposal to remove Instow from the list of designated bathing waters

Closed 9 May 2017

Opened 28 Mar 2017


The Bathing Water Regulations (S.I.2013/1675) protect bathers' health at popular beaches and inland waters by setting microbial standards for water quality and requiring it to be monitored during the bathing season for compliance with these standards. In England the bathing season runs from 15 May to 30 September. The Regulations apply to waters that are used by a large number of bathers and where bathing is supported and promoted. 

The list of bathing waters is reviewed annually. If a bathing water is de-designated, sampling for compliance with water quality standards would cease and there would be no further investment specifically directed at meeting the standards. There would no longer be a legal requirement for public information about water quality to be provided. The main reason to remove a bathing water from the list is low usage for bathing.

Bathing waters receive an annual classification of Excellent, Good, Sufficient or Poor, based on an assessment of water quality over a four year data set.  A symbol showing the classification must be displayed on signage at all bathing waters, together with an "advice against bathing" symbol if the classification is Poor.

If water quality is classified as Poor for five consecutive years the advice against bathing would become permanent and the site would be removed from the list of bathing waters. Permanent advice against bathing may be introduced earlier if is considered infeasible to improve water quality to the standard of a Sufficient classification.

The Environment Agency (EA) has assessed that it will be infeasible to deliver the measures that are required to improve water quality at Instow to meet the Sufficient classification and that it will therefore continue to receive a Poor classification. The EA has therefore advised that permanent advice against bathing should be introduced at an earlier stage, before the 2018 bathing season begins.


Why We Are Consulting

Instow is being considered for de-desigation as a bathing water because of the technical infeasibility of improving the water quality to meet the minimum legally required water quality standards.  The alternative is to retain Instow on the list of bathing waters and renew the advice against bathing annually with each Poor classification until 2020. When it has been classified as Poor for five consecutive years, permanent advice against bathing would have to be issued.  We would welcome comments based on evidence about the technical feasibility of improving bathing water quality at the beach to meet at least the minimum standard.

The shellfish waters in the Taw/Torridge estuary are Shellfish Water Protected Areas.

Consultees can respond using the online survey (please see below).

Responses can also be sent to:

Bathing Water Team

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Area 3D Nobel House

17 Smith Square

London SW1P 3JR

or by email to

Please tell us your views on the proposal and the reasons or evidence to support your views.


  • Environmental campaigners
  • Recreation sector
  • Water/water Industry sector
  • Families
  • Farmers
  • Leisure industry
  • Tourism industry
  • Beach Users


  • Water quality
  • Bathing waters
  • Sewerage