Sewage discharges to Welsh beaches ‘endangering tourism industry’
There are fears Wales’ tourism industry could be endangered after sewage was discharged after heavy rain.
Aberaeron County Councillor Liz Evans pointed to data showing that sewage was discharged in the past few days along Cardigan Bay at Aberystwyth South, Traeth Gwyn New Quay, Llangrannog, Poppit Sands Beach (downstream of Cardigan) and Aberdyfi (impacting Ynyslas and Borth).
The Ceredigion Liberal Democrats leader is calling for a ban on executive bonuses until Welsh Water “clears up its act” and for the Welsh Government to introduce legislation to provide Welsh Water with greater scrutiny and invest in water treatment facilities.
The UK Government governs the regulatory arrangements for discharges from storm overflows but responsibility for water quality in Wales rests with the Welsh Government and NRW.
Liz Evans said: “It is disgraceful that water companies can continue to pump raw sewage into Ceredigion’s rivers and seas with no consequences.
“Ceredigion is home to some of the most pristine beaches in the UK and there is a real risk that our tourism industry and our reputation could be damaged if these incidents of sewage pollution continue.
“Not only is it a risk to tourism, but it’s actually a risk to public health, especially for children who play on local beaches. This isn’t even to mention the threat to local wildlife.
“It will be an absolute scandal if the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay does not take action urgently to end sewage dumping.”
Last autumn Conservative MPs refused to legislate to outlaw the practice of sewage dumping across the UK, however, the Senedd also has the powers to introduce tougher legislation in Wales should the Welsh Government want to, the Welsh Liberal Democrats said.
They also said that the application ‘Safer Seas and Rivers’ relies on data provided by Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales, but not all incidents of sewage dumping or pollution are reported.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have also criticised Welsh Water bosses who awarded themselves £1,119,000 in executive bonuses in 2021/22 despite continuing to discharge raw sewage into Welsh waterways and failing to fix ageing infrastructure.
On Tuesday ministers in the House of Commons were told to “cut the crap” by nationalising water companies and accelerating efforts to reduce sewage pollution.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas also accused the Government of having “utterly failed” to take action to stop “literal shit” being pumped into rivers and seas.
Conservative MPs were among those to call for swifter action and to suggest water company bosses should not be taking their “huge salaries” and bonuses if they cannot show their “house is in order”.
George Eustice, responding as Environment Secretary, insisted the Government was acting on a “scale never seen before” to deal with the challenges posed by storm overflows.
He added that water companies should “consider themselves on notice – we will not let them get away with illegal activity”.
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