South Coast Alliance accuses government of "blind eye" on sewage in Sussex

The Save Our South Coast Alliance (SOSCA) has accused the government of turning a “blind eye” to sewage in Sussex.
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The environmental organisation wrote to MPs across the South Coast in the continuing aftermath of a controversial vote on a House of Lords amendment to the Environment Bill on sewage overflow releases in 2021.

The bill would have illegalised sewage releases entirely and some Sussex MPs, including Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb, and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan, voted against the measures. Both Conservatives have argued that the government's own legislation will deliver a resilient sewage system without the need to eliminate storm sewage overflows entirely which, they say, will cost up to £660 billion to do.

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In a statement made shortly after the vote - which drew criticism from several environmental groups, including SOSCA – Mr Gibb wrote that the Lord’s amendment would have required a “complete overhaul” of the UK’s sewage system, without a plan for doing so.

Bognor Regis beach. Photo: Connor GormleyBognor Regis beach. Photo: Connor Gormley
Bognor Regis beach. Photo: Connor Gormley

But now, after almost two months of severe flooding in Bognor Regis and parts of Chichester, SOSCA is arguing that MPs like Gibb and Keegan have not considered the “crucial” role given to the Environment Agency by a previous Conservative government.

The 1991 Water Act, the environmental action group claims, obliges water service companies accept all new connections from housing developments regardless of whether or not they have the capacity to do so. As a result, they say, an already overwhelmed sewage system is being pushed closer to breaking point by the approval of housing developments on Grade 1 and Grade 2 agricultural land which it cannot sustain.

"We still have a Conservative Government and we still have one of the world’s worst levels of pollution across all our seas, estuaries and rivers. And the Government continues to turn a blind eye to the fact that developments can go ahead with the full knowledge that Waste Water Treatment works are at full capacity throughout the country,” SOSCA’s letter reads.

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"his challenge has already highlighted the appalling levels of sewage and pollution across our whole country. Most civil societies would presume that that was a ‘severe’ risk to both humans and environment.”

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