Survey: Length of the bathing season in England

Closed 8 Oct 2013

Opened 24 Jun 2013


The closing date of  the survey on the length of the bathing season in England has been extended from 30 September until 8 October. 

The Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC, revised by 2006/7/EC) sets standards for bathing water quality across Europe. 

In England the Directive applies from 15 May to 30 September, and this is known as the bathing season.  During the bathing season, water quality at designated bathing waters is monitored by the Environment Agency for compliance with the Directive's standards and public information on water quality must be provided at all bathing waters and online.

Across other European countries there is variation in the season length, and some countries have different season lengths within them due to differences in traditional bathing patterns and locations.  Coastal and inland bathing waters often have different seasons within other Member States.

  • In France the season starts between 15 May and 25 July and ends between 31 August and 30 September for coastal bathing waters.
  • In the Netherlands the season runs from 1 May to 30 October.
  • In Denmark the season runs from 1 June to 1 September.
  • In Malta the season runs from 16 May to 23 October.
  • In Portugal the season starts between 1 May and 1 July and ends between 31 August and 31 October for coastal bathing waters.  This includes the Azores and Madeira.

Why your views matter

The purpose of this survey is to seek views on whether the dates of the bathing season in England should be amended.  There must be one continuous bathing season per year covering the time of peak usage, although the Directive does not specify any minimum or maximum length for the season.  The current dates of 15 May to 30 September could be amended to lengthen or reduce the season, or could be set on a regional or individual basis. 

There are currently 416 designated and monitored bathing waters in England, ranging from busy resort beaches to uncommercialised beaches in rural areas.  Ten bathing waters are at inland lakes or ponds.  At popular seaside resorts in holiday areas, people may be using the beach and the water for a longer period of the year than at quieter locations, and there may be variations in usage between different parts of the country because of prevailing climate conditions.

We are therefore seeking the views of a wide range of water users and regulators on whether the dates of the bathing season should be changed and, if so, what the appropriate dates should be and whether the same season should apply throughout England.

Depending on the outcome of this survey, an Impact Assessment will be prepared and a detailed consultation will be carried out during the winter of 2013/14.  A final decision would be based on evidence of the patterns of usage at bathing waters in different areas or at individual bathing waters.


  • Environmental campaigners
  • Families
  • Water suppliers
  • Leisure industry
  • Tourism industry


  • Natural environment
  • Water quality
  • Bathing waters
  • Sewerage