Residents still surrounded by sewage six weeks after leak on Hayling Island

MORE than a month since a sewage spill on Hayling Island residents claim ‘nothing has been done’ to clean up land surrounding their homes.

On September 14 residents in the village of Stoke suffered a ‘catastrophic spillage’ as effluent from a pumping station flooded the land surrounding their homes for 36 hours.

Remaining sludge in the drainage ditch which flows past resident's homes.

Remaining sludge in the drainage ditch which flows past resident's homes.

Six weeks on they are beginning to question the clean-up operation.

Save Our Island pressure group spokesman Dave Parham said: ‘At a recent meeting with Southern Water they were challenged with the question that it may be cheaper to pay the fine than deal with the response.’ 

Resident Richard Platt added: ‘It is totally disgraceful that nothing has been done. We had a catastrophic leak six weeks ago and nothing has happened to clear up this pollution surrounding our homes.’

Mr Parham said: ‘I met the Southern Water area manager and he agreed they were going to do a ‘light clean-up’ with the removal of solid sewage waste. This should have been done some time ago.'

Left to right - Richard Platt, Caroline Mead and Ray Rowsell alongside the drainage ditch which flows past Caroline's home

Left to right - Richard Platt, Caroline Mead and Ray Rowsell alongside the drainage ditch which flows past Caroline's home

Resident, Martin Elliot Smith, added: ‘There is still effluent sludge and the stench is awful. I give Southern Water 10 out of 10 for doing nothing.’

Whilst there has been a clean-up operation on the western side of the road residents are aggrieved nothing has been cleared from the drainage ditch to the east.

Caroline Mead, who lives alongside the ditch, said: ‘It is disgusting. They must have spent thousands cleaning up across the road but have done nothing here where most people live.’

‘Southern Water claim they are acting on the advice of the Environment Agency as they don’t want to disturb the sludge as it can release further pollution into the harbour but what about the people who live here? They have said that the UV light will kill off the bacteria but most of it sits under thick undergrowth,’ explained Mr Platt.

A Southern Water spokesman responded: ‘Our clean-up operation has been agreed by experts from our regulator, the Environment Agency, in order to protect the environment around Langstone Harbour.’

‘Since then our specialist crews have visited the area, met with residents and agreed a course of action to carry out further work. We are currently awaiting a mutually convenient date to gain access via their gardens and land to conclude this work.’

‘We are working closely with the Environment Agency, taking guidance from them and our own ecologist to ensure we are managing the situation correctly.’

‘We understand the strength of feeling around this and would like to reassure people there is no remaining wastewater and the drainage ditch is free from visible contamination and odour.’  

Ray Rowsell believes protection of the natural environment is being given precedence to the welfare of people.

‘The view from the Environment Agency appears to be that it is more important to protect the flora and fauna surrounding the ditch than the potential danger to humans,’ explained Mr Rowsell. 

A statement from the Environment Agency said: ‘Our investigation into the sewage spill at Hayling Island continues. Protecting our waterways is not an optional extra for businesses.’

With previous spills having occurred in 2010 and 2014, residents believe more needs to be done to ensure there is no repeat. 

‘Southern Water agreed to look at the re-engineering of the system. I am confident they will stick to their pledge but I am less confident it will be to our satisfaction,’ said Mr Parham.

Residents feel Havant Borough Council need to accept some responsibility.

Mr Parham said: ‘I blame the council in the sense they did not take a lead role after the 2010 and 2014 spillages and simply accepted Southern Water’s assurances that measures had been put in place.’ 

Councillor Narinder Bains, cabinet lead for neighbourhoods, responded: ‘Although the treatment of sewage isn't our responsibility, the health of our residents is our number one priority. We are doing everything we can to ensure this issue is taken extremely seriously. We have invited Southern Water to our Operations and Place Shaping Scrutiny Board on November 13 to answer questions.’