Surfers Against Sewage has warned Britons against swimming in the waters at over 80 beaches due to sewage discharge during heavy rainfall. The marine conservation charity monitors water quality across the UK and has released an interactive map highlighting the locations affected. Among the list are well-known tourist spots such as Brighton, Blackpool, and Cowes. Last month, Gorleston Beach in Norfolk was named the best in the country by TripAdvisor. However, it has now been added to the list after being affected by a sewer overflow. Other beaches on the list include Southend Jubilee Beach, Sheerness, Folkestone, Dymchurch, Camber, Bognor Regis, and Whitstable.
Pollution from sewage and agriculture has placed the UK at the bottom of Europe’s list for bathing water quality. Exposure to such pollution can cause bathers to contract harmful illnesses from viruses and antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Surfers Against Sewage estimates that over 400,000 discharges of untreated sewage into UK rivers have occurred, with nearly 5,500 discharges into the UK’s coastal bathing waters. In August 2022, it was revealed that water companies have spent over nine million hours pumping raw sewage into Britain’s seas and rivers since 2016. Data obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the Labour Party indicates that the full scale of pollution may be much worse than previously anticipated, urging the government to hold water company bosses legally and financially accountable for negligence and enforce unlimited fines.
The Environment Agency data revealed that since 2016, 9,427,355 hours of raw sewage had been released into the UK’s seas and rivers. Labour argues that the situation is “drastically worsening” under the Conservatives, citing a 2,553 per cent increase in the number of monitored discharge hours between 2016 and 2021. In 2016, the Environment Agency recorded 100,533 hours’ worth of spills, which increased to 2,667,452 by 2021. As the issue continues to worsen, it is vital that water companies and the government work together to address the underlying problems and protect public health.