THREE Wirral beaches have been named as the best in the region, a new study has revealed - but several have fallen short of top water quality standards.

Shores at Moreton, Meols and Red Rocks, Hoylake have all been ‘recommended’ by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in their annual Good Beach Guide.

The highest accolade means the beaches were the only ones in the North West to have “excellent water quality” and that sewage discharge is treated to remove the majority of bacteria and viruses.

However following one of the UK’s wettest summers on record, the borough saw a drop in the number of shorelines picking up the recommendation from the Guide as both West Kirby and Wallasey were downgraded to ‘mandatory.’

Fort Perch Rock, Leasowe Bay and Thurstaston also scraped the minimum standard, meaning water samples managed to just pass the required level of quality.

Beaches at neighbouring Southport, Ainsdale and Formby were judged as mandatory while Blackpool North and Blackpool South failed.

The MCS says relentless rain and flooding in many parts of the country led to an increase in the amount of bacteria and viruses ending up in our bathing waters.

This type of pollution can originate from a variety of sources such as agricultural and urban run-off, storm waters, misconnected plumbing, septic tanks and dog faeces.

MCS coastal pollution officer Rachel Wyatt said the latest results show that the charity’s call for improved monitoring of combined sewer overflows and action to reduce pollution from farms and populated areas is urgently needed.

She said: “We have recommended fewer beaches in every English region and in Wales and Scotland. In England, the north west and south west were hit particularly hard, with the fewest number of recommended beaches for at least a decade.

“Action must be taken now. With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden beaches could be at serious risk.

“There is no simple solution to sewage and animal waste reaching our seas. However if the water industry, communities and local authorities recognise that there is a problem and begin to work together to find answers then that would be a significant start.”

Councillor Chris Meaden, Wirral Council cabinet member for culture, tourism and leisure, said: “The fact that three of Wirral's bathing beaches have received the highest water quality results yet again is fantastic. It is particularly impressive given that other parts of the region and the country have seen a reduction in their water quality because of contamination.

"That we haven’t been similarly affected is a reflection of Wirral Council's commitment to water quality.

“Wirral is blessed with a unique and beautiful coastline and we all recognise what an attraction and asset our beaches are.”