POPULAR bathing spots in the region have been tested for their water quality as the summer season approaches.

The Environment Agency visited 34 North-East hotspots from beaches in Northumberland down to Saltburn.

Of these beaches, 33 spots were rated ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ while one beach, Cullercoats in North Tyneside, was rated 'Poor'.

Gordon Reid, the Environment Agency’s bathing water specialist in the North East, said: “The bathing water quality in the North East really is something to be proud of.

"To have all but one of our bathing waters classified as Good or Excellent is fantastic news.

“Another great success is that Saltburn has this year been awarded a coveted Blue Flag, which is wonderful news for the town.

“We continue to play our part in maintaining and improving water quality at all 34 North East bathing waters, including Saltburn, and checking compliance with environmental permits.”

Saltburn joins six other North-East beaches in receiving Blue Flag status including Tynemouth Longsands, King Edwards Bay, Whitley Bay, Sandhaven Beach, Roker and Seaburn.

Water quality can be affected by pollution such as rubbish, dog mess and wet wipes flushed down drains. It can also be affected by pollution from agriculture.

Over the last 20 years water quality has improved with just 28 per cent of bathing waters at Excellence or Good in 1990, compared to the current 92.4 per cent.

Helen Wakeham, head of water quality at the Environment Agency, said: “Water quality has improved at English beaches over the last two decades giving locals and tourists a better experience as well as benefiting the environment.

“Improving water quality at our beaches is a fantastic achievement and is a testament to the work of Environment Agency staff, water companies, local authorities, farmers, volunteers and NGOs.

"It shows what energy and commitment can achieve for the environment and people.”

“Water quality test data is published on the Environment Agency’s website and notifications of water quality issues for over 350 locations in the UK are available via the Safer Seas Service app, so we urge people to check as part of planning your trip to the beach.”

The status of bathing waters for each beach in the region can be checked online at environment.data.gov.uk/bwq/profiles/