DAVID TUTT, LEADER OF EBC: Eastbourne's greatest asset is at risk if sewage discharges continue

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my concern over the millions of litres of water that were being lost every day, due to leaks in Southern Water’s infrastructure.
Eastbourne seafrontEastbourne seafront
Eastbourne seafront

Only days later we saw the first real rainfall in this part of the world for many months and hopefully starting to replenish our reservoirs, only to learn that this caused Southern Water to once again pump sewage into the sea.

I cannot imagine that this was the heaviest rainfall that we will experience this year, and if Ofwat the regulator, allows this incident to go unchecked, I fear for what is to come.

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Ian McAulay, the former Chief Executive of Southern Water gave me an assurance that they were taking action to fortify their setup, following the large discharges back in February.

His successor clearly has a major challenge ahead of him.

Southern Water were not the only water company to discharge sewage into the sea.

There were warnings all along the South Coast, from Dover to Cornwall, with the result of beaches as close as Bexhill being closed due to the risk to public health.

Living in Eastbourne; one of our greatest natural assets is the sea.

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It helps our local economy by bringing millions of tourists here every year; supports our fishing fleet and is enjoyed by many sea swimmers.

All of these are however at risk if these discharges are allowed to continue.

It is clear to me that tougher action needs to be taken by the regulator.

The record fine of £90 million imposed on Southern Water in 2021 seems to have had little effect.

Government also has a part to play.

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Prime Ministerial front runner, Liz Truss, when she was at Defra oversaw spending cuts which included a cut of £24m in grant for environmental protection, including surveillance of water companies to prevent the dumping of raw sewage.

If she is successful in her bid to become PM, I hope that one of her first actions will be to reverse that decision.

Stay safe!