Perhaps I should have change the title to 'Seaweed Matters' but for anyone interested in understanding more about the Environment Agency (EA) report on Walpole Bay, which figured in today's local news, here's a link to the interview I gave BBC Radio Kent this morning. (2:40 into the programme at 08:40)
Today's report appears to be a mystery of sorts and I'm waiting, with keen interest to see what the EA report identifies, scientifically, as the source of seawater contamination they refer to, beyond a speculative association with a seaweed build-up this summer. At any one time, we had as much as 2,000, tons of seaweed spreading across our beaches, more than anywhere else, I'm told in the country.
With this in mind and on the basis of our improved water quality results we will be in a position to apply for a significantly higher number of blue flags in future, which is good news.
So back to Walpole Bay, where I once worked stacking deck chairs as a teenager and I have yet to see the evidence on which the EA report is based and I look forward to receiving as soon as possible.
As I say in the interview, it seems unlikely in my mind to be caused solely by the seaweed in the bay. As readers will know, seaweed in large quantities each summer, is prevalent in our waters across the whole of the district, and even more so in other areas outside of Walpole Bay, where beaches with more seaweed have water quality results are not just ‘standard’ but ‘excellent’.
So, I suspect the results are related to something else that the council is not aware of, as if it was purely down to seaweed then surely other areas, such as my own bay at St Mildreds would have been affected.
In answer to Tweets and questions I've had since this morning, although seaweed is removed from other bays, the council is unable to remove all of it due to the extremely high levels we receive on our coast line and one way of dealing with this is to push the seaweed back out into the sea as this is a natural and sustainable way of removing it from the bays. This also happens in other areas where our water quality results are excellent.
It is not unusual for seaweed to be left in an area like Walpole Bay, as the council focuses its resources on the the most popular and priority main bathing/tourist beaches to ensure this is removed as a priority.
As a councillor I have to make often difficult choices and ensure our priority areas are targeted,especially as Thanet receives such an abnormally high level of seaweed across its coast line, which is why, under my instruction, a new strategy document for dealing with this annual challenge is now being completed in advance of the summer of 2012.