News & Updates November ’13

The BSAC Diving Incident Report 2013 has been released

The Annual Diving Incident Report for 2013 is now available to download from the BSAC website. Published by BSAC every year, the 2013 report recorded a total of 263 incidents throughout the UK.
The number of incidents reported this year is about 29% lower than the level of recent years and it follows the trend noted in 2012. This reduction is due to a lower number of incidents reported in the period March to June. It is believed that this was caused by the very poor weather conditions in the UK during this period resulting in a reduced amount of diving taking place. Other highlighted conclusions from the latest report include:

  • The number of fatalities of BSAC members is slightly below the average of the previous 10 years.
  • The number of fatalities of non-BSAC members is in line with the average of the previous 10 years.
  • The causal factors associated with these fatalities and other incidents are very similar to those seen over a number of years; no new causal factors have been identified.
  • Diver age and related health and fitness issues are still featuring as critical factors in this and recent years’ fatalities. The average age of the subjects of this year’s diving fatalities was 52.2. The average age of the background diving population in 2013 is 42.5.
  • Incidents of DCI continue to fall.
  • Ascent related incidents continue to reduce.
  • Incidents relating to ‘Boating & Surface’ events have dropped back to earlier levels.

The above conclusions need to be viewed in the light of a probable overall reduction in the amount of UK diving that has taken place in this period. However, as has been stated many times before, most of the incidents reported within this document could have been avoided had those involved followed a few basic principles of safe diving practice. BSAC publishes a booklet called ‘Safe Diving’ (new edition imminent) which summarises all the key elements of safe diving and is available to all, free of charge, from the

Help us to keep diving safe – If you have been involved in or witnessed an incident, please report it – in confidence – and help us to continue to shape a safe future for diving. Whether you are BSAC or another agency, a recreational or technical diver or if the incident happened in the UK or overseas, we want to hear about it. All reports are treated in confidence and any details used in future reports will be anonymous.
You can report incidents at any time online.

RNLI scheme helps sea anglers stay safe

A new pilot scheme created by the RNLI is aiming to help keep sea anglers safe while they enjoy their sport. Last year 11 sea anglers tragically lost their lives while fishing in the UK* and the RNLI responded to over 1,200 incidents involving anglers. The RNLI is working with bait and tackle shops to pilot a Retail Ambassador Scheme, in which the charity helps the shops give their customers safety advice.
Chris Adams, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager, said:

‘It is not about preventing people fishing from rocks or exposed shorelines, but helping them take the right steps to enjoy their sport safely. ’

There are some simple things that anglers can do to keep themselves safe:

–          wear a lifejacket

–          Check the weather and tides before you head out

–          Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back

–          Carry a means of calling for help

–          If you’re fishing from a boat, keep it well maintained.

*Statistics taken from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID).Download Tackle shops help the RNLI keep anglers safe

England’s bathing waters see record improvement

New figures show that almost 99 per cent of England’s bathing waters meet strict quality standards. Water quality around England’s coasts has dramatically improved since last year, new figures from Defra have revealed today. Nearly all of England’s bathing waters have met strict quality standards, with almost 99 per cent of England’s bathing waters meeting the minimum European water quality standard, and over 82 per cent, the highest ever number of bathing waters – meeting the tighter guideline standard. Environment Minister, Dan Rogerson said: “England’s bathing waters have seen record improvements, meeting the highest standard this year and we need to make sure they continue to remain of good quality. Having quality bathing water and beaches is not only good for the environment but also boosts tourism and creates a stronger local economy. From 2015 the water quality at Britain’s beaches will be measured against stricter levels. The revised EU Bathing Water Directive sets much higher water quality standards which are approximately twice as stringent as the current standards”.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “The improvement in the quality of UK bathing waters this year is really good news, but with much stricter standards coming into force in 2015, we cannot afford to be complacent. The Environment Agency is working hard with local authorities, businesses and water companies to ensure that bathing waters meet the new standards, and the seaside tourist economy in England continues to thrive”.

Bathing water results for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are published by the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland respectively. For more information on the Improving water quality policy go to:

Bathing waters in England: 2013 compliance report

James Cracknell and Richard Benyon call for people to love their rivers

Double Olympic gold medal-winning rower James Cracknell and Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon today urged the public to show their support for the ‘Love Your River’ campaign. The campaign encourages people to value their local river and shows the relationship between water in a river and the water used in the home.

Richard Benyon and James Cracknell, the new Love Your River Campaign Adviser, both donned wellingtons before stepping into the River Chess in Chesham, joined by local school children in an activity called ’kick-sampling’ (an activity used to monitor a river’s environmental health).

Working in support of the ‘Love Your River’ campaign, Thames Water and the River Chess Association were there to show James Cracknell and Richard Benyon how water companies and local community groups are working together to improve the water quality on the River Chess. Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:

“I am delighted that James Cracknell has come on board as the ‘Love Your River’ Campaign Adviser. James has a great passion for rivers and is the perfect person to explain the many benefits that rivers bring to our everyday lives. We rely on rivers for much of the water we use, so it is in all our interest that we protect and cherish them. The fact that so many organisations and individuals have come together to back this campaign shows the importance we all place on making sure our actions don’t damage our rivers.”

James Cracknell Love Your River Campaign Adviser, said:

“I’m really pleased to be joining the ‘Love Your River’ campaign. Going to school in Kingston, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits a river can bring to a community – not only for physical activity, but socially and fiscally also. We’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be and I’m pleased to be involved.” The website for the ‘Love Your River’ campaign can be found at:

Studland to Portland reef to get special protection

Over 330 square km of marine habitat off the coast of Dorset will be given greater protection, Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced today. The site located at Studland to Portland is over half the size of the New Forest National Park, and has been submitted by the Government to the European Commission to become a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
When designated it will complete England’s network of coastal SACs and will mean its reefs will be protected from damaging human activities and its rare features conserved. Read more on the DeFRA website…

For more information on marine protected areas go to: 

Nation’s biggest inland flood defence opened in Nottingham

A new £45 million flood defence, which will protect more inland properties than any other in England, was opened today in Nottingham by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. Stretching along a 27 kilometre stretch of the River Trent, from Sawley to Colwick, the flood defence will protect 16,000 homes and businesses, as well as roads and factories at the heart of the communities. Read more on the DeFRA website… 

Management of fishing quotas to be devolved

All four nations within the UK will be given greater power to manage their own fishing quotas following an agreement that has just been reached, Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon announced today. Under the agreement, the UK, Scottish and Welsh Government, and the Northern Ireland Executive will each be allocated shares, agreed annually, of UK fish quotas for distribution to their fleets. These will be based on the number of boats in each area and the quota they already receive. However, there will be no permanent split of UK quota; fishing vessels will be free to move their operations to other parts of the UK. The new arrangements will replace the present system where the UK Government allocates quota directly to fishermen and to fish producer organisations that manage quotas. This will allow each country to adapt quota allocations to best suit fleets in different parts of the UK. Arrangements for the licensing and administration of fishing vessels will also be clearer as a result of the agreement, and arrangements for the management of the UK’s fishing effort (“days at sea”) under the EU’s Cod Recovery Plan will be formalised.

Richard Benyon, UK Fisheries Minister, said: “By giving each nation greater control of quotas we will all be able to be more flexible on how quota is allocated to individual boats. This will enable the UK to move quota around to where it is needed and as a result we hope to see a reduction in discards. “This agreement will also make it easier to manage fisheries across the UK and is a significant step forward for the fishing industry”. Read more on the DeFRA website…

New plans to simplify recording rights of way

New proposals to modernise the process of recording rights of way, developed in consultation with groups such as the Ramblers and Country Land and Business Association, have been unveiled by Environment Minister Richard Benyon today.
Plans are expected to cut the time taken to record a right of way by as much as several years, so that routes set to be lost in 2026 can be preserved.
All unrecorded footpaths and bridleways created before 1949 cannot be recorded after 1 January 2026. This ‘cut off’ date by which to claim these historical rights of way was set in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. As well as making it easier for walkers, horse riders and cyclists to protect unrecorded rights of way, the proposed system is expected to save almost £20 million a year by cutting needless bureaucracy. No changes are being made to the protections for rights of way; rather proposals have been made to make the process of recording or changing them more efficient. Landowners’ applications to move a right of way will continue to be approved only if they do not affect the public’s enjoyment of it, in which case it will be more straightforward for landowners to see them through.
Under logical new plans, paths and trails that are used by the public will be easier to protect, whilst redundant routes and unsubstantiated rights of way claims will be prevented from getting in the way of farming and business interests. Environment Minister, Richard Benyon said:
“Footpaths, bridleways and trails are the life-blood for many rural communities, providing access to our world-renowned landscapes. Our changes will help protect access for the thousands of people who walk, ride and cycle in the countryside every week. Protecting and improving access to the countryside is the latest in a programme of Government measures to grow the rural economy. These routes have huge benefits to the health and wellbeing of those that use them and can help stimulate the local economy, bringing in more visitors to enjoy rural areas.” Read more on the DeFRA website…

Environment Agency hosts bathing water seminars for beach controllers

The Environment Agency will host bathing water seminars for beach controllers across the South West this week. The two seminars held jointly with DeFRA are designed to increase awareness of the European wide revised Bathing Water Directive among Beach controllers and clarify their understanding of the new directive requirements and timetable. The revised Bathing Water Directive, introduced in 2006, significantly changes the way bathing waters are managed. Bathing water quality standards are getting tighter. The Directive introduces a new classification scheme:

– Excellent – which is approximately twice as stringent as the current guideline standard
– Good – similar to the current guideline standard
– Sufficient – tighter than the current mandatory standard
– Poor – normally non-compliant waters

The Agency will sample on a four year rolling programme and report against these new classifications for the first time in 2015. All bathing waters need to achieve a classification of at least ‘sufficient’. The second important strand of the revised Directive is a greater emphasis on beach controllers providing public information at the beach. If a site is classified as poor in 2015 measures must be taken and advice against bathing posted at the bathing water by the beach controller.
Significantly, if a site is classified as poor for five consecutive seasons permanent advice against bathing must be issued and posted at the beach by the beach controller. Some sites in the South West that meet the current standards are at risk of not meeting the new standards in 2015. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Investors urged to keep pressure on firms to prepare for climate change

Less than half of major UK companies have plans in place to protect them from climate change even though over 80 per cent of businesses say climate change is a substantial risk to them, new research commissioned by DeFRA has found. Less than half of major UK companies have plans in place to protect them from climate change even though over 80 per cent of businesses say climate change is a substantial risk to them, new research commissioned by DeFRA has found.

Environment Minister Lord Taylor has today called on investors and shareholders to keep the pressure on their business interests to prepare for climate change so they can achieve long-term growth. The research, carried out on behalf of DeFRA by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), found that while 80 per cent of FTSE 100 companies surveyed identified substantial risks to their business from climate change, only 46 per cent said they have included adaptation plans in their business strategies. Read more on the DEFRA website…

Show how much you ‘Love’ your river

The ‘Love Your River’ campaign is being launched and backed by DeFRA, the National Trust, the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trusts, Keep Britain Tidy, water companies and Waterwise, to promote the value and benefits of our rivers to our everyday life. The need to protect our rivers has become more urgent in light of droughts being declared in various parts of the country, with some of southern Yorkshire joining the list of drought affected areas today.

  • The campaign will concentrate on the issues that affect rivers and encourage people to think about:
  • How the water we use in our homes or businesses affects the water in our local river;
  • How the pollutants we dump down our drains harms our local water;
  • The fact that there is likely to be less water available for people and businesses in the future and the knock-on effect this will have on the natural world around the river; and
  • How we could get by with less in the event of drought measures in our areas.

Read more on the Defra website…