Eastbourne residents protest against raw sewage dumping

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Residents were out in Eastbourne to protest against sewage being released into the sea.

This month, Southern Water dumped sewage into eight bathing sites along the Sussex coast.

Weekly water samples are taken to reveal where is safe to swim and last week (August 25) the Environment Agency (EA) advised against bathing in the sea at Eastbourne due to pollution risks.

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As of August 31 there were no warnings in place at Eastbourne.

Eastbourne residents protest against raw sewage dumpingEastbourne residents protest against raw sewage dumping
Eastbourne residents protest against raw sewage dumping

On Sunday (August 28) sea swimmers, paddleboarders and residents joined forces on a march from Fisherman’s Green to Eastbourne Water Treatment works.

They called for action from Southern Water and the government on raw sewage dumping.

The march was led by Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman Josh Babarinde OBE.

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Protests against sewage dumping in Eastbourne (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)Protests against sewage dumping in Eastbourne (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Protests against sewage dumping in Eastbourne (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

He said: “Southern Water and the government are putting our town’s precious coastline and tourist economy at risk by not getting a grip of this sewage scandal.

“What’s worse is that this company is making enormous profits and bonuses while polluting our sea.

“This just isn’t right and must be addressed urgently.”

Mr Babarinde is calling for a ban on bonuses for water company executives and a ‘sewage tax’ on their profits until raw sewage discharges are brought under control.

Carolyn Heaps, from the Silver Dippers swimming group, said: “It’s unacceptable that raw sewage is harming our sea for swimmers and tourists alike.

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“As local residents, we say enough is enough to Southern Water and to the government allowing this to happen.”

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “Protecting the environment is a key priority for us. With 80 out of 84 bathing waters on our 700 miles of coastline now excellent or good and none below the acceptable stand, clean water provides a huge boost for regional economies.

“While huge investments such as the £300 million Peacehaven wastewater treatment works has transformed the picture from 30 years ago when just 40 per cent of our bathing waters met the acceptable standard, there is more to do.

“Cutting pollution incidents is one crucial task.

“Thanks to our complete transparency around storm water releases public awareness of how combined drains and sewers leads to EA permitted releases through outfalls hundreds or thousands of metres long has grown. The system protects homes, schools and hospitals from flooding but it is clearly no longer acceptable.

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“Our Stormwater Taskforce is pioneering an approach which we believe can greatly reduce our reliance on the system. Working in partnership with councils and other stakeholders we are finding ways to cut rainfall out of the network using Southern Water engineering and nature based solutions.

“We would be delighted to meet the organisers of this event and tell the group more about our work.”

A spokesperson for the EA said: “Sewage pollution can be devastating to human health, local biodiversity and our environment.

“It is the legal responsibility of water companies to report any spills – both permitted and unpermitted – 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. This is evidenced by prosecutions against water and sewerage companies last year up and down the country, with one of the most significant relating to water company offences in Southern England.”