Hayling Island sewage campaign group blasts Havant council’s decision to forgo electronic beach pollution signs as ‘highly irresponsible’
MEMBERS of a campaign group are speaking out about a council decision to forgo extra measures warning Hayling Island beach users of pollution.
Residents say that Havant Borough Council ignored the demands of a petition, which has more than 2,000 signatures from people calling for electronic beach signage providing users with real-time water pollution information.
The council held a full meeting on June 16, at which the petition ‘help stop Hayling beaches being polluted with untreated sewage’ was addressed.
It was agreed to continue support for regular weekly water testing, undertaken by the Environment Agency, along with new paper signage across Hayling Seafront to signpost visitors to water quality information.
However, the council said that electronic signs would not be practical for the seafront.
Mike Owens of Hayling Sewage Watch said: ‘We had hoped that our councillors would take the community’s request rather more seriously.
‘We know from our own testing and the regular reports of sickness by water users that the seas around Hayling are regularly polluted by water outflows containing untreated sewage.
‘It is highly irresponsible for the council to simply ignore the reality, pretend that the water quality is fine and that current signage is sufficient.
‘The time is now for the council to act rather than bury their heads in the sand and hope that Southern Water will protect beach goers and water users.’
The council said that residents’ concerns were listened to at the meeting, along with the petition that was brought to members.
Councillor Clare Satchwell, cabinet lead for planning, Hayling seafront strategy and coastal management, said: ‘It was agreed that Havant Borough Council would continue support for regular weekly water testing to be undertaken by the Environment Agency, who permit and regulate discharges of wastewater into the sea.
‘We looked at the option of electronic screens, as suggested by Hayling Sewage Watch however, we do not feel that this would be the best option owing to the practicalities of the seafront location.
‘We have therefore agreed to more widely improve signage, these changes will incorporate more areas of Hayling seafront which we hope will ensure residents and visitors are signposted to the most up-to-date information on water quality that is available.’