Campaign launched to have Firestone Bay designated as official bathing waters


Plymouth MP Luke Pollard today called for the waters around Devil’s Point and Firestone Bay to be designated as official bathing waters, subject to regular water quality testing.

Devil’s Point, also known as Firestone Bay, is a popular spot for wild swimming, with bathing facilities already in place and lovely views over Plymouth Sound. Plymouth currently has two bathing waters, both located along the Plymouth Hoe foreshore.

Luke’s campaign aims to add Devil’s Point as the city’s third official bathing water, helping swimmers and paddlers learn about water quality before entering the sea.

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Plymouth’s rivers and seas are polluted by the regular discharge of raw sewage, and Plymouth residents have raised concerns about the quality of the waters around Devil’s Point with Mr Pollard.

It comes after the Government refused to back a Labor amendment to the Environment Bill that would have stopped raw sewage from dumping into rivers and seas – forcing them into a partial U-turn.

If Devil’s Point were classified as bathing water, the Environment Agency and South West Water would be required to monitor water quality to ensure it was safe for swimming, taking samples of water and testing the quality every year from May to September.

It is hoped this would give residents of Plymouth reassurance that Devil’s Point is safe to swim in and force the Environment Agency to take action if pollution reaches dangerous levels.

Mr. Pollard will launch a petition which he will present to Parliament asking for Devil’s Point to be designated as a bathing water.

Luke said: “As a keen wild swimmer, I love swimming in the sea around Devil’s Point.

“The views are breathtaking and since the start of the pandemic, Devil’s Point and Firestone Bay have become even more popular. The time has come for this part of the sea to be officially recognized as an important and valued bathing water.

“The people of Plymouth need to be confident that the waters they swim in are safe and that steps will be taken to make them safe

“I am proud that my campaign to designate Plymouth Sound as the UK’s first National Marine Park has been a success.

“I now want to make sure we monitor and improve water quality whilst safeguarding the diverse use of our ocean. If we are to live up to our name as a UK ocean city, we need to properly recognize all bathing waters of our city.”

Devil’s Point already has local bathing facilities, with an official public bathing area marked by three yellow bathing buoys – which limit the speed of boat traffic and protect bathers and other users of the marine area.

To receive the designation, the area must have several different requirements such as good accessibility, public toilets, parking or transport links, lifeguards and first aid equipment and nearby cafes or shops.

Devil’s Point and Firestone Bay already meet most of these requirements by being free and accessible 24 hours a day, with toilets nearby, free parking, a café at the Artillery Tower and numerous restaurants at the Royal William Yard.

There are currently two sites in Plymouth designated as bathing water by the Environment Agency: Plymouth Hoe East and Plymouth Hoe West, which are rated ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ respectively.

The Environment Agency issued two pollution risk warnings as recently as September 2021. The same warnings are needed to keep Devil’s Point safe.

Stand-up paddleboarding at Firestone Bay, near Devil's Point
Stand-up paddleboarding at Firestone Bay, near Devil’s Point

Pauline Barker, founder of Devon and Cornwall Wild Swimming, said: “Firestone Bay has long been a popular location for local swimmers and during the pandemic it has become a focal point in Plymouth for many people wishing to improve their health and wellbeing. wellness by participating in outdoor sports like wild swimming and paddleboarding.

“It would be reassuring for water users to know that water quality is being monitored so that any instances of contamination, such as after heavy rains, can be assessed and assessed.”

Luke will be collecting signatures on his parliamentary petition to designate Devil’s Point as the official bathing water on Saturday and Sunday mornings at Devil’s Point from 8am to 9am.

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