Council aims for Blue Flag Award after shocking year for sewage discharges
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Last year raw sewage was pumped into Denbighshire’s rivers and sea 452 times for a thousand hours, according to a concerned councillor.
The shocking statistics were revealed at a council meeting at Denbighshire’s Ruthin HQ, where councillors voted in favour of a motion to work towards ensuring Rhyl’s seawater is clean enough to achieve the Blue Flag Award.
The motion was put forward by Cllr Mark Young who said achieving the Blue Flag Award and proving Rhyl had clean water would show Denbighshire meant ‘business’.
“We all know the situation nationally and off the coast of Rhyl,” said Cllr Young.
“But I do think we have to talk about where we are because this is about the start of a process, and it’s not going to be easy. It is a big piece of work, but I think it makes a big statement. That blue flag means we mean business.
“2022 – so the Vale of Clwyd had raw sewage pumped 452 times for over a thousand hours; the Rhyl cut that runs parallel with the coastline 72 times. This isn’t sufficient, and it’s not OK for any reasonable organisation or person.”
Cllr Barry Mellor agreed. “We want our beaches to be as clean as possible,” he said.
“The quality of our beaches is of the utmost importance. Attaining the Blue Flag Award for Rhyl is absolutely something that we should aspire to; however, it needs to be recognised that significant work and investment will be needed to achieve this.
“This is not something that would be achieved in the short term. Cllr Young is right. This will involve council officers working together in partnership with agencies external to the council.
“The Blue Flag status can only be achieved by working closely with partners such as Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales to identify the improvements that will be needed, particularly in the treatment of the water and the associated discharge into the harbour.”
Worth the work
But Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts questioned whether the award was worth the work and investment needed. “Not to throw a spanner in the works, we are voting on this motion,” he said.
“Have we had the debate of do we want the Blue Flag? I’ll give you the reason why because Gwynedd, which is probably the most exposed beach line on the coast, has decided not to apply for it because it is expensive, onerous, and at odds with the established beach management.
“What is the cost attached to this in the long run, and is it onerous for us? Is it something we all agree on?”
But the council’s chairman Cllr Pete Prendergast said councillors voting in favour of the motion would be enough of an indication.
Green Party member Cllr Martyn Hogg believed achieving a Blue Flag Award was worth the effort.
“There are opinions on the Blue Flag, but whether it’s good or bad, the Surfers Against Sewage, they do support it,” he said.
“They think that the benefits to locals who want to use the water, tourists who want to use the water, and the local economy – the benefits of those far outweigh anything you’ve got to put in to get in the Blue Flag.”
He added: “It’s another opinion. Gwynedd will have an opinion on why they don’t do it. Personally, I jump in that water regularly, so having to check how much poo is in there before I do that is something I don’t want to have to do. I want to know we are doing everything we can to make sure that water is clean.”
Councillors voted to work with other organisations such as Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales towards achieving the Blue Flag Award.
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