Sewage woes to be raised at Portsmouth City Council debate

PROBLEM AREA There have been ongoing issues with sewage in Langstone Harbour
PROBLEM AREA There have been ongoing issues with sewage in Langstone Harbour
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THE government could be asked to take action against ongoing sewage problems in Langstone Harbour.

Portsmouth’s Ukip members will raise a motion at next week’s full city council meeting, calling on the authority to write to Sir Philip Dilley, the chairman of the Environment Agency board of governors and Elizabeth Truss, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.

It comes as fisheries in Langstone Harbour, as well as Portsmouth Harbour, have been shut down twice in the last six months over fears of contaminated water.

The problem partly stems from unscreened wastewater that has been released into the harbour from Southern Water’s Fort Cumberland plant during times of heavy rain.

Last November the oyster beds were temporarily closed by the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority due to fears of an e-coli contamination.

And last month the oyster and clam beds were shut for almost a fortnight because of worries about a hepatitis A outbreak – 
an infection that can be caught from eating contaminated shellfish.

The beds were reopened after subsequent tests showed there was no public health risk.

Although not directly linked to discharges from Fort Cumberland, there is a concern that Langstone Harbour is not as clean as it could be.

Councillor Stuart Potter, who represents Paulsgrove, said: ‘In the last year they have ejected 155 times.

‘In this day and age, that should not be happening.’

He added: ‘Portsmouth is being promoted as a waterfront city, which it is. At the end of the day, we have got contaminated water.’

Ukip will also ask about fining the company at the meeting on Tuesday.

Four years ago Southern Water was fined £150,000 for a number of illegal discharges in Langstone Harbour.

Company officials stressed that discharges of unscreened waste will become a thing of the past following a £30m upgrade of the city’s sewer network and Fort Cumberland.

The work is due to be finished this spring.

A spokesman said Southern Water had ‘invested £30m on reducing the number of releases into Langstone Harbour’ but maintained that ‘such releases were vital to protect Portsmouth from flooding and are permitted by the Environment Agency’.