THREE beaches in the area have retained their Blue Flag status –meaning they are among the cleanest in Britain.
Beachlands in Hayling Island, and West Wittering and Bognor Regis, both in West Sussex, have been awarded the honour for the highest standard of water quality from Keep Britain Tidy.
In addition Bognor has also been given a Quality Beach Award for the beach area. Being able to proudly boast of Blue Flag status is a huge boost for tourism.
Portsmouth City Council did not enter any of the city’s beaches for the award. Councillor Andy Lenaghan, who represents Hayling on Havant Borough Council, said: ‘I’m delighted, but to be honest we expected to retain it as a lot of hard work goes into keeping it up to Blue Flag standard.
‘Because of the quality of the water, visitor numbers have increased. And now it’s water sports enthusiasts as well as day trippers who come here. It is a magnet for people who enjoy water sports and they would soon let us know if it wasn’t good quality.
‘They have a system where they circulate information quickly among the community if it isn’t up to standard so they certainly keep us on our toes.’
Nine more Blue Flags were awarded this year than in 2011 and Thanet, in Kent, was the town with the highest number with nine.
The results mean England is ranked in the world’s top 10 countries for having the most Blue Flag beaches out of the 46 countries taking part in the Blue Flag scheme.
Phil Barton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: ‘Winning beaches along our coastline ensure high standards of excellence for visitors.
‘These high standards are testament to the hard work carried out by beach managers throughout the year in order to provide clean and safe beaches for everyone to enjoy, whether you live on the coast or are a visitor.’