Blue Flag beaches: David Attenborough films inspire clean-ups

Blackpool tower Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Four beaches in Blackpool got Seaside Awards but Blackpool South narrowly missed out on retaining its Blue Flag

More than 200 beaches across England have won environmental awards, fuelled by the "David Attenborough effect".

Anti-litter charity Keep Britain Tidy has awarded Blue Flags to 71 beaches and Seaside Awards to 137 in 2019, 18 more than 2018.

Seaside Awards mark "quality beaches" while Blue Flags are for the highest water quality.

The charity said 54% of adults it surveyed said TV documentaries had inspired them to clear beach litter.

About four-fifths of the 2,003 people questioned also said they would feel more relaxed going to a beach with recycling bins that was less likely to have litter.

Image copyright BBC/Polly Alderton
Image caption Sir David Attenborough has presented a number of programmes highlighting climate change and pollution

Four beaches lost Blue Flag status but received a Seaside Award, including Polzeath in Cornwall, Southwold Pier in Suffolk, Sandhaven in South Tyneside and Blackpool South, which was the only beach in North West England to have a Blue Flag.

A Blackpool Council spokeswoman said Blue Flags were "particularly tough to achieve" and the beach's water quality had fallen fractionally short, but all four of the town's beaches had won Seaside Awards.

She said: "We have made big steps to improve the quality of Blackpool's bathing waters and this continues to be a success story."

How many beaches have awards in each region?

Awards in 2019 compared with all other beaches

Note: Beaches with both a Blue Flag and a Seaside Award are counted once
Source: Keep Britain Tidy/thebeachguide.co.uk

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Spokeswomen for East Suffolk and Cornwall Councils said Southwold Pier and Polzeath had not met the high standards required for Blue Flag on the day of testing, but they were confident the status would be restored in 2020.

Image copyright Neil Squires/PA Wire
Image caption Croyde Bay in North Devon was one of 71 beaches to get a Blue Flag award

Keep Britain Tidy surveyed people in May, with 54% of respondents saying they had been inspired to pick up litter at beaches after watching documentaries made by legendary naturalist Sir David.

There are four classifications of water quality, with only "excellent" receiving the Blue Flag.

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Media captionSheringham is one of six Norfolk beaches that can fly the Blue Flag

Blue Flag beaches must also run at least five educational activities for communities and visitors.

Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: "We as individuals feel emotionally connected to the environment more than ever, with so many experiencing eco-anxiety."

Winners will be awarded their flags at a ceremony in Margate.

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