Shocking figures show that on average, Southern Water discharged raw sewage every 43 minutes, devastating Hastings & Rother’s tourism and leisure hotspots.
Leisure and tourism spots across Hastings & Rother are being devastated by 69 years-worth of raw sewage discharge, Labour Party analysis has found.
Analysis of Environment Agency figures obtained under Freedom of Information requests by the Labour party, shows that since 2016, raw sewage has been pumped into the natural environment by Southern Water for a total of 612,917 hours.
Popular tourist and bathing spots have been affected, including Hastings and St Leonards beaches as well as further along the coast at Pett, Winchelsea and Camber – spoiling areas of natural beauty and risking public health.
Cumulatively, this equates to a duration of 25,538 days or 69 years of sewage discharge taking place across the south-east of England and polluting its environment, a damning indictment of over a decade of of Conservative failure to hold water bosses to account.
The data also points to a 27,052% increase in the number of monitored discharge hours, between 2016 and 2021. This highlights that the situation is only drastically worsening under the Tories. It is a direct consequence of the Conservatives cutting the Environment Agency grant by two-thirds, which was overseen directly by Liz Truss, and part of a wider rollback of crucial environmental regulations by this Conservative Government.
The full scale of the pollution is likely to be even greater, given that Event Duration Monitoring does not cover every permitted storm overflow.
Labour Party analysis also shows that between 2016 and 2021, there were 74,450 spill events into our seas and rivers by Southern Water. This equates to a shocking average of a sewage spill taking place every 43 minutes over a 5-year period.
This comes amid revelations that the zombie Conservative government shelved sewage discharge reduction plans at the beginning of August – but has since u-turned due to mounting public pressure.
Helena Dollimore, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, said:
“It is disgraceful that yet more raw sewage has dumped into our sea, closing our beaches in Hastings during summer season, and poisoning our beautiful Sussex coastline and rivers. People want to be out enjoying our sea, not worrying about getting sick, and our coastline is the bedrock of our tourist industry.
“For too long Southern Water has been allowed to get away with this, and our Conservative MP and Conservative Government have been letting them. Sally-Ann Hart voted just last year against Labour’s attempt to end this disgraceful behaviour in Parliament. She says there is no ‘quick fix’ to this problem but her party have been in power for twelve years and ignored Labour’s warnings.
“Labour will do whatever it takes to get tough on water companies, put a stop to this appalling behaviour, and hold them responsible for this negligence. Our community and our coastline deserve so much better.”
Paul Barnett, Labour Leader of Hastings Borough Council, said;
“The Conservatives have presided over a water system that is ageing and at bursting point, with poor planning and neglect of our vital infrastructure. The images that we are seeing of sewage dumping are a consequence of that failure to act.
Our town relies on the tourist industry that our beautiful beaches bring, and the shocking conduct of our water companies is putting that at risk.”
Jim McMahon, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
“The Tories continuing to allow sewage dumping onto our beaches and into our waters isn’t just a destruction of our natural environment, it’s also a significant public health hazard.
“Families flock to Hastings, St Leonards and Camber Sands to enjoy the British summer. They shouldn’t have to worry about being able to enjoy its coastal hotspots or whether they are swimming in sewage infested waters.
“The East Sussex Tory MPs that voted against putting a stop to raw sewage discharge must explain to their constituents why they failed to protect their local beauty spots. Labour will clean up the Tories’ mess by ensuring water bosses are held accountable both legally and financially for their recklessness, through enforcement of unlimited fines, and tougher regulations that prevent them from gaming the system.”
Photo credit Andrew Granger