Cornwall Council calls for action on sewage discharges

By Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter

30th Nov 2022 | Local News

Aerial shot of Falmouth
Aerial shot of Falmouth

Cornwall Council has agreed to call on the Government and South West Water to address the issue of sewage being discharged into the water in Cornwall. The council debated the issue at its full meeting this morning following a number of reports and a rise in concerns about sewage being discharged into the sea and into rivers.

Liberal Democrat councillors Dominic Fairman and Leigh Frost put forward a motion for the council to take action and urge the Government and SWW to do more to address the problems. There has been an increase in concerns about the issue with high-profile incidents in Cornwall and groups such as Surfers Against Sewage have been regularly calling for the Government to do more to take action against water companies when they allow raw sewage to be discharged into the sea.

Cllr Fairman said that he had tabled the motion to give councillors the chance to debate publicly an issue that was key for many people in Cornwall. He said that the Government's response to recent issues had been "woefully inadequate" and said that timescales for improvements were "meaningless" for the public.

Cllr Frost said that the council should use its voice to put pressure on water companies and the government to make improvements and "fulfil their obligations to the people of Cornwall".

Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham also supported the motion and said that the River Fal had been one of the most polluted areas with 7,500 hours of discharges being made. She said: "The Conservatives have presided over a doubling of water companies dumping sewage into our waters."

She said that whilst it would take time to fix "broken systems" it was likely that things might happen more quickly if the council put pressure on the Government and water companies.

Pete Mitchell, Cornwall councillor for St Agnes, said that videos of sewage being discharged into the sea in the village had gone worldwide last month. He said that he knew people who were contacted by people in New York who had seen the footage and were concerned.

He said that there should be a concern that people who might have been thinking of coming to Cornwall on holiday might have second thoughts if they saw sewage being discharged into the sea.

The motion called on the government to end all untreated sewage discharges into bathing waters, high-priority nature sites, and shellfish harvesting waters by 2030. It also called for budgets to be restored to the Environment Agency so that it can carry out an effective testing and monitoring regime.

It was agreed on a vote of all councillors and requires council leader Linda Taylor to write to the Secretary of State, South West Water, and the Environment Agency urging action on all the points raised.


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