TWO Isle of Wight beaches were the worst in the UK for sewage discharges, from October 2020 to September 2021, according to pressure group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).

A report released today (Thursday) reveals the extent of the national sewage pollution crisis, highlighting two Island towns as the worst affected by sewage discharges in the UK.

In that time, Gurnard had 321 discharges, the highest incident of sewage discharge in the UK, according to SAS.

Cowes closely followed Gurnard, with 318 discharges.

Earlier this year, Southern Water was slammed for its performance and was fined £90 million.

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However, the utility firm argues that discharge is made up of around 95 per cent rainwater and denies that raw, untreated sewage is pumped out.

According to the SAS report, the two Island locations suffered the most sewer overflow discharges in the country.

The location that comes closest to Gurnard and Cowes is Poole Shore Road, with 297 discharges, in the Wessex Water region.

The four locations that have received the most sewage discharge in the Southern Water region, covering the Isle of Wight and southeast England, are Cowes, Gurnard, Ryde, and Sandown.

Earlier this month, MPs voted to require water companies to reduce outflows, but insisted it was too expensive to replace the infrastructure that would mean companies could be forced to stop doing it altogether.

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Welcoming the new Environment Bill, Surfers Against Sewage said: The final result may not be the best act but it is a much, much better act than it may have been, and that is thanks to the tireless campaigning of Ocean Activists."

There are new requirements for companies to monitor and report on sewage discharges (which Southern Water does HERE) and to progressively reduce the adverse impact of discharges from storm overflows.  A plan to tackle the problem is also due before parliament in next year. 

Surfers Against Sewage says there is more to be done.

Scroll down for a link to its report...

On Saturday, at Yaverland, Islanders will protest about water companies discharging into Island water.

At 10am, a group are preparing to brave the November sea temperatures by taking the plunge in the “No Sewage Social”.

One of the event organisers, Maria Villa, said: “There is now more of an emphasis on water companies providing information to the public on issues, such as any time that a Sewer Overflow discharges so that anyone wanting to enjoy seas and rivers can now make an informed choice to do so.

“The government must make a plan to tackle sewage pollution and present this to parliament by September 2022 and has placed a legal duty on water companies to progressively reduce the adverse impact of discharges from storm overflows.

“The public must remain vigilant and observe that these plans all come to light accordingly.”

"Shocking and outrageous, but they are by no means unexpected" - SAS CEO

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “The findings of our report are shocking and outrageous, but they are by no means unexpected.

“We need water companies to clean up their act and commit to a decade of change to ensure our rivers and coastlines are thriving with people and wildlife again.”