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Protesters across the country took to the water on Saturday in a mass protest against sewage pollution blighting UK waterways. 

Action took place at more than 30 events across the UK, with campaigners venting their frustration at Britain’s sewage crisis, holding placards that read “deja poo we’ve heard this crap before!” and “fishes not feaces”. 

Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) organised the coordinated ‘paddle out’ as thousands took to their kayaks, paddle boards and surfboards to deliver a clear message to water companies – that people have had enough of sewage pollution in Britain’s waterways.

In Brighton, Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes joined protesters on the beach after finding the water where she frequently went paddle boarding was in a “disgusting” condition. 

Untreated sewage dumped into England’s rivers and the sea more than doubled in 2023, the Environment Agency found, with record numbers of discharges flowing into bathing waters.

Water companies have been blamed by charities for failing to invest in damaged infrastructure or to fix leaky pipes, as the number of sewage spills in England rose from 1.74m hours in 2022 to 3.6m hours the next year. 

Speaking to Sky News, Daniella Jordan from SAS said they saw an apology from the water industry following the campaign group’s day of action last year, however she added that this hadn’t translated into action.

Jordan said: “We’ve seen little other than nice words up to this point. There are promises to make investment but we are calling on Ofwat to make sure that investment is in the right place, on the right things, and at the scale that we need to make sure we actually see cleaner rivers and cleaner beaches.” 

She added: “Words are great but what we really need to see is action.”

SAS have demanded an end to sewage discharge into UK bathing waters by 2030, and have encouraged the public to sign a letter calling for the chair of Ofwat, the water regulator, to protect and restore the waterways.

(Image credit: Sky News / YouTube screenshot)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

The post Thousands take to the water in mass protest against sewage pollution appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.


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