Sewage: Protests in St Leonards over Southern Water




  • In Science
  • 2022-08-26 13:50:07Z
  • By BBC
Sewage protestors in St Leonards
Sewage protestors in St Leonards  

Campaigners gathered in St Leonards calling for government action to stop beaches being polluted by sewage.

The Clean Water Action Group said it was "unacceptable" and people were getting sick in Sussex waters.

The Bexhill Chamber of Commerce also wrote to MP Huw Merriman demanding he take the lead on securing a £1m compensation pay out for the town.

Southern Water apologised for the pollution last week and said protecting the environment was a "priority".

About 400 people joined Amanda Jobson, Clean Water Action campaign leader, on the beach on Friday.

She said: "We want tougher regulations and for the government to come down harder on Ofwat. The performance in the last five years of Southern Water has been horrendous.

"People have been getting very sick, including children and the elderly. We will not tolerate or accept this, enough is enough."

Sewage protestors in St Leonards
Sewage protestors in St Leonards  

In his letter to Mr Merriman, Bexhill Chamber of Commerce president Howard Martin said the town's reputation was "literally going down the pan".

"We are now known as the sewer pipe of Sussex", he added.

Losing the use of the sea and beach at the height of summer, he said, was destroying "our reputation as a clean and friendly tourism destination" and "our struggling hospitality sector".

He said nobody "has the guts to take on Southern Water", and accused the firm's bosses of having an approach that "shareholders are more important than your pokey little seaside town".

Sewage protestors in St Leonards
Sewage protestors in St Leonards  

A spokesman for Southern Water said the current storm water release system "protects homes, schools and hospitals from flooding but it is clearly no longer acceptable".

He added: "Our stormwater taskforce is pioneering an approach which we believe can greatly reduce our reliance on the system.

"We would be delighted to meet the organisers of these events and tell them more about our work."

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "It is the legal responsibility of water companies to report any spills to the Environment Agency. Where there is evidence of non-compliance we will not hesitate to pursue the water companies concerned, and take appropriate action."

Mr Merriman has been contacted for a comment.

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