As part of a Protecting Wild Waters campaign, a group of local beach goers and residents are applying to DEFRA for a Bathing Water Designation at Coastguards’ Beach, in order to protect the waters of the river Erme. 

Local residents are concerned about the river, which flows through Ivybridge into the South Hams countryside, amidst ongoing countroversey surrounding river spills and the subsequent water quality of the Erme.

Organisers said: “We are concerned about the water quality of our river and the impact this has on our community’s health, local wildlife and the local environment. Achieving designation will be an important step in protecting water users and those that enjoy spending time around our river. Once a location has been given this status, the Environment Agency will monitor the water quality at this site, informing bathers of how safe the water is to enter and take steps to improve it if it falls below standard.”

The campaign, which is supported by Surfers Against Sewage, hopes to make Coastguards Beach on the estuary an official bathing water site, which will bring in more water quality testing if successful. 

Organisers said: “Coastguards’ Beach and the surrounding estuary links the River Erme to Mothecombe Beach and the sea. The beach and its surrounding estuary are used by swimmers, bathers, dippers, paddlers, walkers, runners, paddleboarders, kayakers, surfers and windsurfers all year round.  The SW Coast Path crosses the estuary, and the beach is popular with dog walkers, horse riders and builders of sandcastles. 

“And yet EA data from 2022 tells us that in terms of hours sewage spills Mothecombe was ranked the tenth highest beach in the country .  This is an indication that the water quality in the river affects the whole estuary and its beaches, which still suffer from intermittent levels of pollution flowing down the Erme.  It is also affected by local weather conditions and run off from all types of land use.”

Details of the campaign and a public consultation questionnaire can be found at