New figures show Southern Water discharged raw sewage every 43 minutes on average over the last five years

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FIGURES revealed through a freedom of information request show that Southern Water discharged raw sewage every 43 minutes on average over the last five years

Analysis of Environment Agency (EA) figures obtained under requests by the Labour Party, has shown that since 2016, raw sewage has been pumped into the South East’s natural environment for a shocking total of 612,917 hours.

Areas impacted include popular tourist and bathing spots such as rivers, lakes, and beaches – spoiling areas of natural beauty and risking public health.

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Added up, this equates to a duration of 25,538 days or 69 years of sewage discharge taking place across the South East and polluting its environment.

Sewage discharge at EastneySewage discharge at Eastney
Sewage discharge at Eastney

Labour Party analysis also shows that between 2016 and 2021, there were 74,450 spill events onto the South East’s waters. This equates to a shocking average of a sewage spill taking place every 42.8 minutes over a 5-year period.

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This comes amid revelations that the Tory government shelved sewage discharge reduction plans at the beginning of August – but has since U-turned due to mounting public pressure.

MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: ‘The Tories continuing to allow sewage dumping onto our beaches and into our waters is not just a destruction of Portsmouth’s natural environment, it’s also a significant public health hazard.

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‘Families flock to Portsmouth and the south coast to enjoy the British summer. They should not have to worry about being able to enjoy its coastal hotspots or whether they are swimming in sewage infested waters.

‘The South East’s 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.’

In addition to writing to the EA earlier this week to raise concerns about recent sewage discharges onto south coast beaches, Mr Morgan has taken a range of actions to tackle the impacts of the dirty water crisis locally, including questioning ministers, convening a public meeting on the issue and working alongside local organisations and charities to hold government and industry to account.