EVERY bathing beach on the North-East coastline has achieved water quality standards.

Government agency Defra has announced that all 34 of the region’s beaches had reached European water quality standards, with all but one declared either excellent or good.

The figures are up from 30 beaches which met the quality standard last year.

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Northumbrian Water says it has invested £1 billion over the last 20 years to improve water quality.

Twenty-seven of the North-East’s bathing waters were rated excellent, six are classified as good and one, Spittal near Berwick, was deemed sufficient, although even that was an improvement on its poor rating in 2015.

Water samples were taken by the Environment Agency between May and September.

The most dramatic improvement was at Seaham, where water quality rose from sufficient in 2015 to excellent this year, following major improvement works.

Northumbrian Water’s Wastewater Director, Richard Warneford, said: “Our two decades of investment has yielded significant benefits, and we are confident that by maintaining focus upon the North East coastline we can continue to drive improvements.

“Investment in areas such as Seaham and Seaham Hall, where we have implemented improved storm water storage facilities, and Saltburn, with a £1.5million system upgrade, has paid off.”

He added: “There is more work like this to be done and we refuse to take today’s excellent results as an excuse to be complacent.

“Back in 2000, only four North-East bathing waters achieved the standards in place at the time, so today shows a massive improvement.”

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan said: “Water quality at beaches has improved again this year, with 27 in the North East meeting the highest rating.

“We will continue to ensure bathing waters are maintained and improved further, so we need partners and the public to work with us to reduce pollution.”