The leader of North Norfolk Council has vowed to help win back the Blue Flag status for three of the region's beaches after they were downgraded over their water quality.

Councillor Tim Adams said his authority was working closely with Anglian Water and the Environment Agency to secure return of the coveted award for Mundesley, Sea Palling and East Runton.

The sites were removed from the Blue Flag list following a drop in Environment Agency water quality rating from ‘excellent’ to ‘good’.

The beaches have instead been given Seaside Award status.

Cromer, Sheringham and West Runton all retained their Blue Flag status for another year.

North Norfolk News: Mundesley beach is one of three north Norfolk beaches to lose its Blue Flag statusMundesley beach is one of three north Norfolk beaches to lose its Blue Flag status (Image: Supplied)

The three downgraded beaches will not have an opportunity to secure the award again until 2025.

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Cllr Adams said: “We are delighted to retain the Blue Flag status at three wonderful locations all of which have a diverse and thriving offer for visitors from near and afar.

“While we aspire to achieve the return of the Blue Flags at Mundesley, Sea Palling and East Runton, the Seaside Award status achieved at these locations recognises that we still provide all other elements of Blue Flag status despite the water quality falling from ‘excellent’ to ‘good’.

"These three beaches have public toilets, RNLI lifeguard cover, an enhanced cleaning regime and public information and they are still excellent beaches and destinations for visitors.

“We continue to work with Anglian Water and the Environment Agency to achieve the return of the Blue Flag status at those remaining beaches as soon as possible.”

North Norfolk News: North Norfolk District Council leader Tim Adams has vowed to retain the Blue Flag status of Norfolk's beachesNorth Norfolk District Council leader Tim Adams has vowed to retain the Blue Flag status of Norfolk's beaches (Image: Supplied)

The beaches lost their Blue Flag status after an Environment Agency investigation revealed elevated levels of faecal matter and e-coli

READ MORE: Faecal matter and e-coli behind Norfolk beaches' Blue Flag loss

It comes at a time of heightened concerns over water contamination from sewage.

Water companies pumped sewage into waterways for a combined 1.75 million hours in the UK last year - an average of 825 times per day - according to the latest figures from the Environment Agency.

The data showed sewage was dumped every two-and-a-half minutes on average since 2016. 

In one recent incident, a section of Mundesley beach was forced to close after a sewage leak at the Anglia Water pumping station earlier this year.

READ MORE: Fresh calls to end sewage dumping in sea off Norfolk coast

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said Blue Flag status was "vital for tourism, businesses and environment” in the region.

Tourism contributed £529 million to the north Norfolk economy and provided employment opportunities for an estimated 11,898 people - around 20pc of the total jobs available in the region – in 2019.

North Norfolk News: North Norfolk MP Duncan BakerNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Image: Supplied)

What is Blue Flag status?

Blue Flag and Seaside Award are international awards which are managed in Britain by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education.

Beaches must meet certain criteria to achieve Blue Flag or Seaside Award status, set out by Keep Britain Tidy.

This includes: 

  • Safety and services, such as first aid and lifeguards (where necessary).
  • Environmental information, including displaying details about local eco systems.
  • Water quality - Blue Flag beaches must meet the ‘excellent’ water quality standard as set out in the EU bathing water directive, and Seaside Award winners must meet the 'sufficient’ standard.
  • Environmental management, including litter and waste.

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, said: “Visitors to a beach flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award can be assured the beach will be clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as international bathing water quality standards.

“The Blue Flag is the world’s most recognised award for beaches and marinas and, to qualify, each applicant must meet and maintain a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria.

“We’d therefore like to recognise and applaud all those who have worked so hard to protect and improve some of our best-loved and most popular beaches.”