Protests against the discharge of sewage on English beaches will be held across the country this weekend to highlight what protesters say is the failure of water companies to curb pollution.
From Falmouth in Cornwall, where swimmers, lifeguards and synchronized swimmers are demonstrating, to Whitstable in Kent, where protesters will turn a beach into a crime scene, activists say the problem of sewage discharges by water companies has not improved.
The demonstrations come after the water regulator Aoufat this week issued penalties Millions of pounds to many water companies for pollution incidents, non-compliance with compliance targets for treatment works and internal sewage flooding in 2021 and 2022. Ofat said the amounts should be withdrawn from customer bills.
Swimmers and beachgoers will block Tankerton Beach near Whitstable on Sunday to identify it as a “crime scene.” Ed Actson, of the SOS Whitstable electoral group, said the demonstration was taking place a year after the first beach protest gained significant support: “We were really optimistic that after last year’s huge turnout, public support and media attention, there would be amazing changes. But If anything, it just got worse.
It seems that the government’s plan to reduce the discharge of surplus storm has made it easier for companies. the South Water Another penalty was issued for pollution and there was over 100 hours of raw sewage discharge at Tankerton Beach this year alone.”
The data shows that so far in 2022, there have been 67 combined storm flood releases over a 44-day period – for a total of 166.6 hours – at Tankerton Beach.
In July, Southern Water was awarded one star out of five by
The Environment Agency, making it one of the worst-rated waters
Companies in England and Wales. In 2021, the company A record fine of £90 million For the intentional discharge of billions of liters of raw sewage into coastal waters in Kent and Hampshire. A criminal investigation is underway.
the government Storm mitigation plan It involves an investment of £56 billion over 25 years in a long-term program to tackle stormy sewage discharges by 2050. But critics say the plan lacks urgency.
Hundreds of miles to the west, protesters will gather at Cornwall’s famous Gyllyngvase Beach where there were 15 sewage pollution alerts in September – equaling the number for the whole of 2021.
Jo Cord, who runs sea sports classes in Gyllyngvase and organizes the protest, said she hopes hundreds will attend. pollution She added that the alerts affected her work, forcing her to cancel two or three classes a week. “There were a lot of alerts in September – more than one on some days. There is anger and frustration. We have been complaining about this for a long time and nothing has changed.”
Cord, whose seven-year-old son Ole will be at the beach protest, noted that the Falmouth pool had closed, making the sea the only option for many people who wanted to swim. “Southwestwater says it’s going to make things better, but he’ll be an adult by the time anything changes,” she said.
Last weekend a popularity contest, endless summer swimming, Canceled due to contamination alert.
Simon Thomason, head of event organizer, Gyllyngvase Surf Life Saving Club, said he had no choice but to cancel on ethical grounds and because his insurance would have been invalid.
“This year we have felt as if we have constant alerts on the beach,” Thomason said, adding a call for Southwestwater to invest more money in stopping sewage discharges: “The climate crisis means our winters are going to get wetter. Sewage is affecting too. on the oceans’ ability to store carbon, so we need to act now.”
Members of Penzance’s synchronized swimming team outside the sink will also participate in the protest.
Spokeswoman Bippa Best said: “Release sewage into our waters is something very close to our hearts and, unfortunately, our mouths, our eyes and our entire bodies.
“We’ll try to do some synchronization out at sea, and hopefully you’re not in the middle of sewage.”
Jane Kirkham, Labor leader in Cornwall Council, said: “We use our beaches and rivers a lot here. They are vital to our health and our economy. I have met with representatives of Southwest Water, but nothing has changed at any pace.
“Fixing our broken systems is going to take time. They are overwhelmed with building new homes without the commitment or investment to rebuild sewers to keep up. But we have to solve this problem for the health of ourselves, our children, our ecosystems, and our economy.”
Glenn Winchester, a philanthropist and frequent swimmer at Gyllyngvase and nearby Swanpool Beach said: “I am really pissed that we have to gather and protest at sea. September is a great time of the year for a sea swim. The crowds have shrunk, the light has taken on a new quality of clarity, and the sea is starting to take your breath away. When diving in. Sometimes there’s an ethereal mist swirling just above the surface. But if it rained the night before, it would be bittersweet as there would be danger lurking beneath the surface.”
Southern Water said it understood the protesters’ concerns over the weekend.
“Protecting the environment is a major priority for us as we lead the water industry in developing solutions to reduce our reliance on storm-allowed flooding. This is a common sewage system pressure valve in times of increased rainfall, to avoid flooding people’s homes and communities – but we agree that this is not a measure acceptable.
“Working in partnership with councils and other stakeholders, we are finding ways to remove precipitation from the sewer system, using Southern Water Engineering and nature-based solutions. We are already engaging extensively with campaign groups and will continue to do so at every opportunity.”
A Southwest Water spokesperson said: “WaterFit is South West Water’s largest environmental investment program in 15 years and is now well underway, focused on delivering benefits to customers, communities and the environment. With WaterFit, we will significantly reduce our use of storm floods, mitigate and then eliminate our impact on river water quality by 2030, and maintain our excellent shower water standards all year round.”