Seaside Award 2024 and Sandgate Parish Council

An open letter from Sandgate Parish Council to:

  • Keep Britain Tidy
  • The Environment Agency
  • Southern Water
  • Folkestone & Hythe District Council and
  • Neighbouring coastal Town and Parish Councils

Sandgate has been proud to receive the Seaside Award for the last ten years. In 2023, just 128 beaches in England won the Award, with only 24 in the South-East region. Keep Britain Tidy’s Seaside Award is the nationwide standard for the best beaches across the UK and it celebrates the quality and diversity of England’s coastline. The flag is a symbol of quality which ensures visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive, and well-managed coastal stretch.

Sandgate Parish Council has reluctantly decided not to apply for the award this year due to our concerns about the quality of the bathing water after heavy rain and stormy conditions.

The information on water quality for the Seaside Award comes from Environment Agency (EA) data and the sampling point for Sandgate is at Seabrook Point – a mile west from where people in Sandgate tend to swim, which is by Granville Parade. The EA test point at Seabrook Point is 50 metres to the west of a sewage outfall pipe. The prevailing current in this area runs west to east and testing therefore fails to pick up pollutants which are dissipated in an easterly direction towards Sandgate and Folkestone. Testing at this point has shown an excellent rating for the last 4 years for the prescribed Sandgate Beach area.

There is a Southern Water sewage outfall pipe located at the western end of Granville Parade (some 100-150 metres out to sea, depending on the tide), as well as the Enbrook Stream storm overflow and the Enbrook Stream outfall pipes on the beach. The popularity of Granville Parade as a swimming location has increased with the introduction of a sea sauna at the Rowing Club. The popularity of sea swimming has also increased considerably over recent years.  

Because of concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the data published by the EA and Southern Water, the Parish Council decided in September 2023 to use an established independent testing laboratory to provide sea water testing kits to test the water at Granville Parade. Sea water testing was undertaken on twelve occasions between October 2023 and January 2024.

From the results of these tests, and data from Surfers Against Sewage, the Parish Council concludes that generally the quality of the sea water under normal weather conditions is good and, sometimes, excellent. However, the testing did show very high levels of contaminates on one occasion after heavy rain.

Based on this information, the Parish Council took the view that it would be inappropriate for us to apply for the Seaside Award. We have decided that we should reach out to other coastal parishes and district councils to explore best practice during the period that water companies have to ensure their infrastructure is fit for purpose (2050).

We have the following three recommendations arising from our sea water testing:

  1. The Environment Agency’s sampling point for Sandgate should be at Granville Parade as this is where most people swim;
  2. Southern Water should update their wastewater handling so it no longer requires discharge of sewage to sea at Granville Parade (and elsewhere). In the interim, the sewage outfall pipe at Granville Parade should be extended further out to sea by Southern Water to help keep sewage spillage away from the bathing area and beach. (For example, the outlet pipe from the Hythe sewage treatment works extends 4km out to sea); and
  3. As a Parish Council, we should issue advice to sea users on best practice so that they may enjoy the sea in a safe manner. Information should be provided by the Parish Council and others to advise people to be cautious about the quality of the beach and the sea water for up to 48 hours after heavy rain and stormy conditions, with a link given to check the water quality (e.g. Surfers Against Sewage

A more detailed report with the results of the seawater testing is available on Sandgate Parish Council’s website (

Signed by

Tim Prater, Chair of Sandgate Parish Council and Susan Claris, Chair of the Environment Committee, Sandgate Parish Council


Seaside Award Water Quality Criteria:

  • The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements
  • The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis
  • No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area
  • At designated bathing waters from 2016 the water quality should be graded as ‘sufficient’ as set out in the Bathing Water Directive. (In 2015, bathing beaches should of mandatory standard.)