An MP has hailed the designation of bathing water status to a beach in north Essex as "incredibly good news".

Manningtree beach was granted the status by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Monday.

The River Stour, which runs through the west of Suffolk before flowing into the North Sea in north Essex, was also granted the status.

It means the two sites will benefit from regular water quality monitoring.

East Anglian Daily Times: Sir Bernard Jenkin, who is the Conservative MP for Harwich and North EssexSir Bernard Jenkin, who is the Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex (Image: David Woolfall/UK Parliament)

Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, has welcomed Defra's decision.

He paid tribute to the Manningtree Mermaids group, which had been campaigning for the status.

Sir Bernard said he met with members for a swim in Manningtree last October.

He said: "This is incredibly good news and means that bathing water quality will be monitored more carefully at Manningtree beach to reassure bathers when it’s safe to swim.

East Anglian Daily Times: The River Stour also received the statusThe River Stour also received the status (Image: Newsquest)

"As a wild swimmer myself this has been a campaign close to my heart and congratulations must be given to the Manningtree Mermaids for their successful campaign.

"I will forever remember that rainy October morning when we swam in the dark."

The River Stour and Manningtree beach are two of three new designated water sites in the East of England, following Defra's national consultation, and brings the total number of sites across England to 451.

Defra said it will seek public and stakeholder views on extending the definition of “bathers” to include a wider range of water users beyond swimmers - such as rowers, kayakers and paddle boarders.

Defra said that last year 96% of bathing waters in England met minimum annual standards and 90% were rated as “good” or “excellent”.

But there has been growing public anger over the state of England’s rivers and coastal waters, which suffer pollution from sewage outlets and other sources such as agricultural run-off.