PENARTH Beach is now officially a designated bathing area following a campaign from a member of the public.

The new status means Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is required to check the quality of the water regularly and take appropriate steps if the results are poor.

Tests are taken between May and Spetember every year, and the first tests in Penarth will be conducted in May this year.

If the water is rated as poor for five years in a row, then the bathing status is revoked and advice shared to avoid the water.

Penarth Beach will not receive an official classification until later this year as time is needed to build up a clear set of data.

James Tennet, 34, began a campaign earlier this year for the beach to be recognised as a bathing area, and said he "couldn't be happier" it had succeeded.

"I hope this has a real long-term positive impact on the town with more people visiting the seafront and feeling more comfortable swimming in the water," he said.

"It was great to see 400 people reply to the public consultation, with 96 per cent supporting the application. This really shows the strength of feeling about the matter and the huge number of people who will be positively impacted by the decision.

"It's great to have Penarth Beach designated as an official bathing water as the public will now have access to reliable scientific data on the quality of the water - before now all we have had is vastly differing opinions on this matter.

"The best thing is that this is really a win-win situation. We will either find out that the water quality on Penarth Beach is good, or we'll find out it needs improvement and the local council and water companies will have to take steps to make these improvements."

Col-Huw Beach in Llantwit Major was also granted bathing water status after a campaign from local authorities.

The responses to the consultation showed that there was an overwhelming majority that supported the move for both beaches to be given bathing water status.

Only one respondent disagreed with the move for Col-Huw, while nobody disagreed with granting the status to Penarth.

A number of themes emerged from the responses, such as the physical and mental health benefits of open water swimming, the fact that many regularly use the sites for swimming already and that this move could improve the infrastructure of the sites.

There were some concerns about the impact of nuclear waste from Hinckley Point and from general polllution caused by wastewater and the nearby barrage and shipping channel.

As Penarth Beach is already very widely used by bathers, regular testing of the water quality and publication of the data is in the public interest.

To read the full results of the report, click here.