MP Letter / Resource For Action
Safer Seas Service continues to inform the general public about the health of their local beach. The data generated also, worryingly exposes the failing in both the sewerage system, and the loopholes within the legal framework used to hide the true impacts of pollution. During the 2015 bathing season (May – Sept), 95% of UK beaches met the minimum EU water quality standard, yet the Safer Seas Service warned users of 3,045 pollution incidents from sewer overflow discharges and runoff from farmland and urban environments. There were 926 discharges of untreated human sewage at English beaches covered by the Safer Seas Service. Alarmingly only a mere 11% of these sewage spills had the potential to be monitored by the weekly Environment Agency water quality testing regime. Leaving a disturbing 89% of the untreated sewage discharges unchecked and outside of the legal framework designed to protect surfers, bathers, water users and coastal communities.
Furthermore, there are 41 beaches across England (16), Wales (11) and Scotland (14) where SAS believe the sampling spot is placed in an area that avoids the most polluted, yet popular areas on the beach. The results at these beaches could be misleading communities and the vital opportunity to implement any necessary improvements could be withheld.
If you share these concerns and want to see legal changes to the protection of your bathing waters, we urge you to join SAS in calling for :
An increase in the length of the Bathing Season in the UK ensuring “out of season” water sport users, such as surfers are protected by a legal framework.
A review of how the UK implements the Bathing Water Directive, ensuring bathing water quality is tested at the appropriate time and in the appropriate place, thus protecting the bathers, surfers and water users most at risk.
Increasing water company obligations to introduce more effective and faster investment to remove current sewer overflow assets with priority awarded to sensitive areas such as bathing waters, recreational watersports zones and Sites of Special Surfing Interest.
Mandatory year-round sewer overflow warnings introduced for all affected UK beaches regularly used by the public to protect public health where the current water-quality testing regime fails to do so.
A strict, legally binding limit of 3 sewer overflow discharges per season, per sewer overflow asset.
Discharges should only be acceptable in extreme weather events.
A ban on water companies installing all new sewer overflow assets directly impacting areas of the coastline important for public recreation or environmentally sensitive areas.