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Campaigners #CelebrateEurope’s role in cleaning Wales’ beaches and waters

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Peter Gilbey
I ddarllen y dudalen hon yng Nghymraeg, cliciwch/tapiwch yma.


Today (Saturday 18th May 2019), campaigners across the nation are taking to our beaches to kick off our summer campaign, celebrating the contributions made to Wales by our place in Europe. Specifically, the huge progress we’ve made in cleaning our beaches and bathing waters.

Wales For Europe has already commissioned Pembrokeshire beach artist, Marc Traenor, to create a tribute to the campaign on the iconic North Beach in Tenby, which has already garnered significant attention on social media.

Campaigners will assemble on the beachside promenade in Swansea to celebrate Europe through beach art, singing and speakers, before moving on the Marriott Hotel bar.

Campaigners are also taking to the riverfront in Newport with special guest speaker Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE. Dr Marsh-Smith is an environmentalist and CEO of Afonydd Cymru / Caring for Welsh Rivers – the representative body for Wales’ six river trusts.

In the 1970s and 1980s, environmental groups and others frequently referred to the UK as “the dirty man of Europe”, partly due to the polluted state of its beaches. Since then, significant improvements have been made, and in 2016 more than 95% of UK bathing waters (609 out of 631 sites) were classed as at least sufficient or better quality in terms of EU standards.

In Wales, the success has been greater with 2017 seeing 101 out of 102 beaches passing strict European environmental tests, an increase of 315% on 1990!

This improvement is due to the UK’s membership of the EU and the strict requirements and standards that were introduced into UK law in order to comply with the requirements of the EU Bathing Water & Urban Waste Directives.

Europe has also provided a vital defence to our rivers too; the Water Framework Directive states that deteriorations in water quality must not happen. Only last year, Afonydd Cymru used this important European legislation to bring a formal complaint against the Welsh Government for failing to manage agricultural pollution properly.

Paul Willner, chair of Swansea for Europe, said:

“The beaches of Swansea have never been cleaner and safer – and we have Europe to thank for it.   It was European law that made Westminster clean up its act. Beaches that were polluted with raw sewage twenty years ago now have blue flags. It’s a perfect example of how being in the EU brings real benefits to Swansea and its people.”

Director of Wales For Europe, Peter Frederick Gilbey said, “Through laws, constant pressure and the threat of fines, the EU has been the main force driving the Westminster government and Welsh government to act. 80% of our environmental laws come from the EU and our beaches, wildlife and human population are healthier for it.”



Beach art commissioned by Wales For Europe on North Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire. Artist: Marc Traenor.

Notes to Editors

For all bids and media enquiries, contact:

Peter Frederick Gilbey, Director, Wales For Europe