Wearside campaigner kicks up a stink over sewage

Bob Latimer on Whitburn Beach.
Bob Latimer on Whitburn Beach.
Have your say

AN environmental campaigner has raised a stink over new research claiming to reveal the full extent of raw sewage discharges across the UK.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has obtained new information from water companies and environmental regulators, which indicates that the use of combined sewer overflows (CSO) is much more common than previously thought.

The research reveals an average of 31,000 discharges of raw sewage in England and Wales – compared with the 22,000 previously recorded.

Now the society has called for the water industry to “clean up its act”.

But the plea rings hollow to Bob Latimer, a marine conservation crusader and owner of Latimers seafood deli, in Whitburn.

Earlier this year, Mr Latimer says he identified a “cocktail of poisons” being discharged into the sea from the former Whitburn Colliery.

He has expressed scepticism at the Marine Conservation Society’s commitment to making our waters cleaner and safer.

He said: “While I greatly welcome the news from the Marine Conservation Society regarding the CSOs, I have to say I told them this over a year ago when they recommended the Whitburn beaches in their Good Beach Guide.

“The problem was when I showed them the CSO evidence, they had to remove their recommendation from the guide.

“They did not like this, as they had failed to do any testing themselves.”

CSOs are designed to act as emergency outlets for overloaded sewerage systems during periods of heavy rainfall. But they can discharge at other times as well, into lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters.

MCS’s pollution programme manager, Dr Robert Keirle, said: “MCS accepts that CSOs are an essential part of a well-managed and maintained sewerage network, if sited, used and monitored appropriately.

“However, MCS insists that they should not be used for routine discharge of excess sewage, as an alternative to increasing the capacity of sewers to cope with a growing population”.

New MCS research shows numerous CSOs around the UK coastline, discharging well in excess of the permitted amount of 10 times per annum.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho