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Sewage dumped on Wales’ Blue Flag beaches 579 times, say Welsh Lib-Dems

28 Nov 2022 4 minute read
Main picture: raw sewage. Photo Credit: Kate Boicourt. Right top: Cllr Liz Evans in Aberystwyth; below: Lib-Dem Leader Jane Dodds monitoring pollution in the River Wye.

Analysis has revealed Welsh Water has dumped sewage onto Welsh Blue Flag beaches 579 times, lasting an astonishing 6,757 hours.

The figures are based on analysis of Environment Agency data by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The worst incident was on Poppit Sands Beach near Cardigan, with sewage dumped 79 times lasting 1,518 hours.

South Beach in Aberystwyth had the highest number of incidents at 142.

Welsh constituencies hold the top three places in England and Wales for the overall highest number of sewage dumps, and five out of the top ten.

Preseli Pembrokeshire ranks as the constituency with the highest number of sewage dumps in the whole of England and Wales, with 6,754 dumps in 2021 (79,501 hours). 

Carmarthen East and Dinefwr and Dwyfor Meirionnydd come a close second and third.

The findings follow a major report by Surfers Against Sewage this week which reported illegal “dry spills” are taking place, meaning water companies, including Welsh Water, are discharging sewage even when there has not been heavy rainfall.

The report also found an increase in the number of cases of people being sick after swimming in natural waters. Including a case study in Poppit Sands.

Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Labour Government to ban bonuses for water bosses until the dumps are halted and for the money being given as bonuses to be directed into improving infrastructure. 

They are also campaigning for more investment in Natural Resources Wales to save Wales’ swimming spots and enforce high standards.

Over the last two years, executives at Welsh Water have received £2.4 million – including £808,000 in bonuses – while they continue to dump raw sewerage into our precious rivers and lakes and market themselves as a not-for-profit, Welsh Lib-Dems have said.

‘Raw sewage’

“While Welsh Water bosses make huge bonuses, we are left to swim in raw sewage,” Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said. 

“Many families in Wales are worried that a trip to the beach with the kids, building sandcastles and playing in the sea, could now make them sick. It’s not fair, and Wales deserves better.

“The Welsh Labour government must show leadership and protect our beaches. They shouldn’t hide behind inaction from the Conservatives at Westminster: they have the power in the Senedd to clean up our water, restore nature and make our beaches safe again.”

“The government cannot let water bosses get away with this any longer. They should listen to Liberal Democrat calls to stop water bosses rewarding themselves for failure and to invest in protections and clean ups of our treasured beaches and rivers, before it is too late.”  

‘Ban dumping’

Adding her concern to the number of incidents, Ceredigion Liberal Democrat Leader and Aberaeron and Aberarth councillor Elizabeth Evans said: “Ceredigion Liberal Democrats have been raising the issue of sewage dumping in our rivers and seas for quite some time now, this latest report only confirms our fears.

“This practice is endangering human health, our local wildlife and the tourism industry that places like Ceredigion and West Wales as a whole rely on.

“It is quite frankly a scandal that the Labour-Plaid Cymru partnership in Cardiff Bay is not taking urgent action to ban sewage dumping.

“At the very least they could back Liberal Democrat calls for a ban on bonuses for the bosses of Welsh Water, which is officially a ‘non-profit’ until they get the issue under control.”

Top 10

Top 10 sewage discharges on Blue Flag beaches in Wales.

Area Blue Flag Beach Water Companies Sewage Discharge Location Bathing Water Hours of spills Number of spills
Pembrokeshire Poppit Sands Beach, St Dogmaels Welsh Water ST DOGMAELS NORTH END PS CSO AND EO Poppit West 1518.50   79
Ceredigion Aberystwyth South Beach, Aberystwyth Welsh Water LLANFARIAN WWTW LLANFARIAN CERED’N Aberystwyth South 1470.75   142
Pembrokeshire Coppet Hall Beach, Saundersfoot Welsh Water SAUNDERSFOOT STW/PS SAUNDERSFOOT Saundersfoot 1294.75   79
Pembrokeshire Tenby South Beach, Tenby Welsh Water STORM TANKS AT TENBY HEADWORKS TE Tenby S 693.00   54
Vale of Glamorgan Dunraven Bay Beach, Southerndown Welsh Water PENYBONT WWTW PENYBONT Southerndown 664.25   49
Pembrokeshire Newgale Sands Beach, St Davids Welsh Water NEWGALE SEWAGE TREATMENT WORKS Newgale 451.25   38
Bridgend Rest Bay Beach, Porthcawl Welsh Water MARLAS STORM TANKS N CORNELLY BRIDG Rest Bay Porthcawl 181.00   22
Pembrokeshire Amroth Beach, Amroth Welsh Water AMROTH AND SUMMERHILL SCHEME PS Amroth 142.00   23
Ceredigion Llangrannog Beach, Llangrannog Welsh Water PUMPING STATION ADJ TO NANT HAWEN Llangrannog 133.75   14
Denbighshire Central Beach, Prestatyn Welsh Water PRESTATYN SPS MARINE RD EAST Prestatyn 115.50   36

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

I do not mind admitting that this article has made cry……. How can we allow this?

Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
Restless shade of the assassinated Tywysog Lloegr
1 year ago

Two things to consider here:-
1. These discharges were probably permitted due to extreme events.
2. I say extreme events rather than, say 1 in 10 year events (for which works used to be designed) because such events tend to happen in the order of 5 times per year. On these occasions the sewerage works are overwhelmed. Part of this is down to climate change. Part of it to poorly planned population growth and part of it unlicensed dumping

William George Thomas Thomas
William George Thomas Thomas
1 year ago

I am afraid this has been an ongoing problem for years. I was a County Councillor in Carmarthenshire and took the case to the British Courts and then the European Court of Justice. At this Court, we had a Guilty Verdict against the UK government including Wales. The case was published in 2017 if you want a read the case number is Case C-502/15, JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Ninth Chamber) 4 May 2017′ (Failure of a Member State to fulfil obligations – Directive 9112711EECArticles 3 to 5 and 10 – Annex I, Sections A, B and D – Urban waste-water… Read more »

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