Welsh Affairs Committee calls for action to end to ‘deeply damaging sewage discharges’ in Wales
The Chair of Westminster’s Welsh Affairs Committee has called for greater urgency from regulators and water companies to prevent further, “deeply damaging sewage discharges” in Wales.
In a letter to Wales’ Minister for Climate Change Julie James, Committee Chair Stephen Crabb draws attention to evidence heard by the Committee over two evidence sessions with campaigners, water companies and Ofwat.
The key issues of concern highlighted by the Preseli Pembrokeshire MP include the lack of accurate monitoring of the volume of discharges and the frequency of outflows, the number of ‘unpermitted’ sewage discharges and the low number of prosecutions in Wales to enforce better water quality.
According to an analysis published in November, 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, Mr Crabb’s constituency, recorded 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 came a close second and third.
“We are all too aware of the number of sewage discharge events taking place on a routine basis, thanks to increased media attention and the efforts of campaigners to shine a light on this unpleasant practice, Mr Crabb said.
“This can be damaging to human health and wildlife alike and should be minimised in any nation committed to protecting our natural ecosystems.
“Wales’ sewerage system is old and under enormous pressure from increased rainfall: it needs to be made fit for purpose.
“Unfortunately, our committee, from what we have heard in evidence sessions with those responsible, are not convinced that there is an urgent plan to make crucial infrastructure upgrades.
“I have therefore today written to the Climate Change Minister at the Welsh Government to understand what steps are being taken to address these problems and protect Welsh rivers and coasts.”
Blue Flag beaches
Dŵr Cymru dumped sewage onto Welsh Blue Flag beaches 579 times, lasting an astonishing 6,757 hours according to the 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.
The findings followed a major report by Surfers Against Sewage which reported illegal “dry spills” are also 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.
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