Petition by Hayling dad to stop sewage discharges into harbour gathers support of thousands

MORE than 5,300 people have signed a petition asking a water company to stop polluting a harbour.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2016, 11:52 am
Mark Coates is campaigning to clean up Langstone Harbour. He is pictured with his two children Livvy, six, Joe, nine, and other Hayling Island residents who are backing the online petition, from left, Jack Mealy, 74, Pauline Scutt, 80, and Sheila Mealy, 72 Picture: Sarah Standing (160537-9180)

Mark Coates said he felt compelled to start the petition when he moved back to Hayling Island with his family to discover that discharges were still being made into Langstone Harbour by Southern Water – despite a £30m upgrade of its sewage plants.

Mr Coates, 41, of Rails Lane, said he feels the time has come to take away the firm’s Environment Agency permit that allows emergency discharges from Fort Cumberland, in Eastney, into the harbour. He says he’d like to see the harbour cleaned up enough for children to swim in it. The petition has gained support from thousands of people.

Mr Coates, a teacher, said: ‘I believe Langstone Harbour has taken enough and it’s time to move the outfall pipe somewhere else.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mark Coates is campaigning to clean up Langstone Harbour. He is pictured with his two children Livvy, six, Joe, nine, and other Hayling Island residents who are backing the online petition, from left, Jack Mealy, 74, Pauline Scutt, 80, and Sheila Mealy, 72 Picture: Sarah Standing (160537-9180)

‘There shouldn’t be any discharges at all after all the money they’ve spent.

‘However, at the moment they still have a legal permit to do this, resulting in unsanitary waste all over our beaches, putting wildlife and the public at risk.

‘I want the harbour to be cleaned up and safe for my children to swim in. The Environment Agency should remove this permit.’

In a statement Southern Water’s wastewater strategy manager Paul Kent said the £30m upgrade of its treatment works has led to an 85 per cent reduction of discharges.

Mark Coates is campaigning to clean up Langstone Harbour. He is pictured with his two children Livvy, six, Joe, nine, and other Hayling Island residents who are backing the online petition, from left, Jack Mealy, 74, Pauline Scutt, 80, and Sheila Mealy, 72 Picture: Sarah Standing (160537-9180)

The last was in January due to ‘high rainfall’.

Mr Kent added: ‘Without these overflows, homes and businesses in the city would be at risk from flooding during heavy rain.

‘Like a bath overflow, they protect properties should the system be overwhelmed and, as such, the vast majority of the water released into the harbour is rainwater.

‘These controlled releases are permitted under environmental regulations but we recently spent more than £30m to reduce their frequency.

‘We are committed to minimising their use and the impact on the environment but they will always be required to protect the city from flooding’.

Richard O’Callaghan, environment manager at the Environment Agency, said water quality in the harbour has improved due to the reduction in discharges following investment.

He added: ‘Following heavy rainfall, flows can exceed the capacity of the network of sewers and storm tanks. When this happens, Southern Water is permitted to discharge screened and settled storm sewage.

‘This is in order to protect properties that would otherwise be affected by sewer flooding. This happens at a time when the environmental impact is significantly reduced by the high dilution both within the sewers and the receiving waters’.

And he said combined sewer overflows are now fitted with monitoring to show when they are discharging and for how long – to assess the environmental impact of storm discharges.

The petition can be found at chn.ge/1XO3GRk.