Swansea Slip: Cleaning up the act

Early bathing in Swansea Bay ] The Slip emerges ] Swansea Slip : the place to be... ] Swansea Slip: The place to be (continued) ] Swansea Slip:decline and fall ] Swansea Slip: Cleaning up the act ] Swansea Bay : The cleanup starts here ] Building a bridge at Swansea Slip ] [ The Swansea Slip Bridge ] Bert and Dick at the Beach ] Early Swansea sewerage schemes ] Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme ] Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme (Continued) ] A Map of Swansea's Main Drainage Scheme ] Swansea's sewerage system under Mumbles Head ] The Mumbles Head sewer outfall ] Slip Statistics ]

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Will it still be quiet in two years time?

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Whatever way you view it, Welsh bathing waters are going to be crucially important to the economy in the next century. Locals and tourists alike have to be reassured that the horrors of the past will not be repeated, the water must be safe and the beaches must be clean.

An idea for a flagship standard for clean bathing water emerged from France in the mid 1980s. The concern, as in the UK, was over bathing water and sewage contamination. By 1987, the idea had developed sufficiently to be offered as one of the initiatives for the ‘European Year of the Environment’. The European Blue Flag Campaign was born. It quickly became more than a simple award. More challenging criteria were included, such as waste management and environmental planning. Special awards were also developed for marinas.

The Blue Flag criteria cover four aspects of beach management:

  • Water Quality
  • Environmental education and information
  • Environmental management
  • Safety and services

The criteria are complicated. This is not European bureaucracy at work but rather ensuring that unscrupulous governments and organisations do not try to side-step the rules. Unfortunately, the British government (amongst others) has a well-documented record in ‘loosely interpreting’ environmental legislation, particularly where bathing water quality is concerned. So the criteria are carefully worded to reduce any 'temptation.'

Getting a Blue Flag is a tall order. The environmental standards are just the beginning. A Blue Flag beach needs comprehensive support services such as lifeguards, information centres, educational and information support and quality services for beach users. Welsh Water and its partners in the Green Sea Initiative have set themselves the goal of 50 Welsh Blue Flag beaches by the year 2000. Twenty-two Blue Flags were awarded in 1999, if anything, that’s an indication of how hard and fair the standard is. Those twenty-two awards indicate a massive amount of investment and commitment by the members of the Green Sea initiative.

So where is Swansea in all of this? One thing is for certain, Swansea Bay is very dirty. Since 1989, the Bay has failed seven of the annual water quality tests, including the last four years in a row. Sewage contamination makes the waters of the bay unsafe.

This situation can not continue, and it won’t. Everyone agrees that the Bay is capable of Blue Flag status and the Slip will be at the centre of a rejuvenated Swansea Beach. The recovery has already started.

Swansea Bay: The future


SHW Microhistory: 9. The Black Point Burrows.

This little ecosystem of dunes is one of the most remarkable survivals of the landscape of the original site of the original settlement of Swenes'

This little group of sand dunes has survived almost untouched for perhaps two thousand years. Caught between the sea and the South Dock, they have escaped any development and landscaping, and give us an idea of how the mouth of the River Tawe looked when the Viking and Norman settlers first decided to build a permanent settlement.

The dunes owe their existence to the phenomenon of 'longshore drift' which

continually moves sand and sediment along the beach from Mumbles to be gathered up at this point where the currents of the bay would come into conflict with the river waters of the Tawe. For generations of Swansea seafarers the area was known as 'Black Point'. The point disappeared in the 1790s when the West Pier was built in an attempt to ease navigation into the mouth of the river. The dune field was once much larger and did form part of the corporate estate enclosed under the 1762 Enclosure Act.

The remarkable survival of the dunes up to the present day is down to the fact that there has never been any need to remove them, although they have been nibbled around the edges by various building projects over the years. The demolition of the adjacent factory means that there is no protection for the dunes and most likely they will now be destroyed by unscrupulous property developers in the rush to build more luxury housing.

More SHW Microhistory

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All content © Nigel A. Robins and Swansea History Web 2006, 2007

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