England and Wales have issued pollution warnings for almost 50 beaches after untreated sewage was discharged into the sea.
Water companies say discharges have been made to protect homes and businesses since Monday, according to official data.
This comes after a time of heavy rain in southern England, following a very dry spell. Safer Seas and Rivers Service received data from water companies.
While there are no sewage warnings in place in East Yorkshire there are warnings in place south of the Humber in Cleethorpes.
A recent report by the Environment Agency found water companies are dumping more raw sewage into our waterways than before. In 2021 there over 370,000 ‘spills’ of raw sewage.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said;
“It’s appalling that water companies’ performance on pollution has hit a new low. Water quality won’t improve until water companies get a grip on their operational performance.”
“For years people have seen executives and investors handsomely rewarded while the environment pays the price.”
“Company directors let this happen. We plan to make it too painful for them to continue like this.”
“The amount a company can be fined for environmental crimes is unlimited. But fines currently handed down by the courts often amount to less than a Chief Executive’s salary.”
“We need courts to impose much higher fines. Investors should no longer see England’s water monopolies as a one-way bet.”
Government Made It Easier For Untreated Sewage To Be Pumped Into Waterways
Hugo Tagholm, CEO, of Surfers Against Sewage, said;
“Water companies have flipped from extreme drought to extreme sewage pollution.”
“Whilst the government has shelved the publication of the promised and long-awaited sewage action plan, the industry has reverted to type, pumping and dumping as soon as rain hits.”
“Our rivers and beaches are once again treated as open sewers. Years of underinvestment are now in plain sight.”
“It’s time that huge water company profits were diverted to properly managing water and sewage, and protecting people and the planet.”
“Our rivers and beaches should not be subject to this type of industrial environmental vandalism.”
The government however seems intent on doing nothing about the problem. They voted in favour of allowing and essentially making it easier for companies to do so following the UK leaving the EU.
Yorkshire Water has seen its rating drop from the maximum four stars for good to just two stars. While the company is just below the national average when it comes to dumping sewage into waterways.
The company however is one of the worst when it comes to ‘self-reporting’ on discharges or raw sewage it makes.
As a result of the report, the Environment Agency is calling for a number of things. These include Prison sentences for Chief Executives and Board members whose companies are responsible for the most serious incidents.