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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Were Health Resorts Bad for your Health? Coastal Pollution Control Policy in England, 1945-76

John Hassan

Environment and History 5(1999): 53-73

A case study of beach pollution illustrates economic and political influences that have shaped environmental policy in Britain. The need to provide irrefutable evidence that there was a risk to public health, before tangible steps were taken to control pollution, was a characteristic feature of official policy. The consequent deterioration of the holiday industry's prime asset - the marine environment - is traced from the early nineteenth century. The postwar period is selected for detailed study. The paper will explore why, despite the growth of opposition to the pumping of raw sewage into the sea, this traditional method of waste disposal continued to be relied upon until the recent past.


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