Seahouses North Beach is a long remote beach situated on the north Northumberland coast. Measuring nearly two kilometres in length, the sandy beach slopes gently, resulting in a long distance to the sea at low tide.
Since 1998, the Environment Agency have worked closely with Northumbrian Water to identify and deliver significant investment in the sewage infrastructure around this bathing water. Sewage from Seahouses, Beadnell and Bamburgh is treated at a sewage works on the other side of Seahouses village.
For the four year (2019-2022) assessment period where data is available, seaweed (macroalgae) was not assessed as being sufficient to be objectionable, but was observed as being present on 100% of visits. Environment Agency research suggests this bathing water does not have a history of large amounts of seaweed (macro algae).
Modern sewerage systems have two separate systems, one takes foul sewage to sewage treatment, the other takes rainwater runoff through surface water drains to rivers, lakes and the sea. Misconnections occur when waste water pipes are plumbed into surface water drains instead of the foul water sewerage system. This can give rise to pollution when the waste water is discharged directly to the environment through the surface water drain. For example, a washing machine or toilet may be incorrectly plumbed so that it discharges to the surface drain rather than the foul sewage drain.
For the four year (2019-2022) assessment period where data is available, phytoplankton (microscopic algae) was not noted at this site. Environment Agency research suggests this bathing water does not have a history of phytoplankton blooms.
The risks to human health from contact, ingestion or inhalation with marine algae that currently occur in UK coastal waters are considered to be low. However, some individuals may be more sensitive and display some reactions.
A common marine algae found in UK coastal waters is Phaeocystis, which is often mistaken for sewage as it forms foam and a brown scum, but it is non-toxic.
There are no active pollution risk forecasts made at this bathing water. However any bathing water has the potential to be affected by a pollution incident and if this occurs a pollution risk warning with associated advice against bathing will be issued on this website.
Environment Agency samplers make observations of litter present on the beach at every visit, this includes assessments of sewage debris, litter and tar. At Seahouses North for the four year (2019-2022) assessment period where data is available, sewage debris was not noted at this site. Litter was not assessed as being sufficient to be objectionable, but was observed as being present on 79% of visits. Tarry residue was not noted at this site.
There are a number of isolated dwellings which are not on the main sewerage system and have private sewage treatment arrangements. The Environment Agency does not believe these are a source of pollution to the bathing water at present. If any concerns arise, the Environment Agency will investigate and request immediate remedial action from those responsible.
The natural drainage (hydrological) catchment surrounding the bathing water is approximately 6.4 square kilometres. The catchment slopes gently throughout. The majority of the land in the catchment is agricultural (mixed livestock and arable) with small developments and caravan parks. The southern end of the catchment has some urban development around North Sunderland.
Seaweed (macroalgae) and phytoplankton (microscopic algae) are a natural part of the marine and freshwater environment. Below we note whether these have been recorded in quantities sufficient to be a nuisance.
The majority of sewers in England are “combined sewers” and carry both sewage and surface water from roofs and drains. A storm overflow operates during heavy rainfall when the sewerage system becomes overwhelmed by the amount of surface water. The overflow prevents sewage from backing up pipes and flooding properties and gardens. An emergency overflow will only operate infrequently, for example due to pump failure or blockage in the sewerage system.
Heavy rain falling on pavements and roads often flows into surface water drains or highway drains, ending up in local rivers and ultimately the sea. The quality of bathing water may be adversely affected as a result of such events.
It is the Environment Agency role to drive improvement of water quality at bathing waters that are at risk of failing higher standards. It is natural for water to run off the land to the sea. Water quality at a bathing water is dependent upon the type and area of land (the catchment) draining to the water and the activities undertaken in that catchment.