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Where to find UK coastline ‘paddle out’ sewage protests this weekend

Widespread action is planned across Britain on Saturday 18th May, raising red flags on overspill, runoff and direct dumping. 

In total, more than 30 protests will take place, with flagship events at West Pier, Brighton, and Gyllngvase Beach, Falmouth, mirroring similar events which took place last year. 

In 2023 alone, there were 584,001 recorded discharges from Britain’s sewage system, an increase of more than 50% on the previous year. Meanwhile, analysis by Surfers Against Sewage, the organisation spearheading this weekend’s protests, showed over 13% of monitored sewage overflows in England are operating at less than 90% capacity, suggesting figures for the previous 12 months  are likely to be lower than the actual number of discharges. 

While water companies recently proposed a ‘world leading’ upgrade to the UK’s sewage, fresh water and drainage networks, and Ofwat is still considering another £96billion proposal from industry, improvements on the ground are likely to be many years away. Meanwhile, in the 33 years since market privatisation, suppliers have paid out £78billion in dividends to shareholders. 

Once again, the public face a grim choice this summer – risk swallowing shit or forgo a dip in the water,’ said Giles Bristow, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage. ‘This year offers an opportunity to turn our collective anger into action and end the sewage scandal, with panicked politicians in listening mode, desperate to ride the waves of popular sentiment. A general election is imminent, and the public are out on the beachfronts and riverbanks making it clear that the issue of sewage pollution is at the top of the agenda.’

‘The poor state of our rivers and seas is shocking and infuriating. Whole generations are being deprived of the right to safely enjoy the benefits that blue spaces offer,’ added double Gold medal-winning Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes, who will be attending the Brighton protest. ‘Our waterways are for us and should be here to enjoy as they are so important for our collective health and wellbeing. Events costing thousands are getting cancelled. To see our rivers and seas being treated so appallingly by those responsible for looking after them is nothing short of a national scandal.’

Surfers Against Sewage Paddle Out Protest, Saturday 18th May, times and locations: 

Falmouth – Gyllyngvase Beach 10:00
Brighton – West Pier  11:00
Bedford – Castle Mound 14:00
Scarborough – South Bay  12:00
Marine Lake, Clevedon 10:00
Hythe – Hythe Beach  10:30
Plymouth  – Plymouth Hoe East  11:00
Saltburn – Saltburn Pier 10:00
Shepperton Lake 10:00
Edinburgh – Portobello Beach  10:30
Caswell – Caswell Bay  09:00
River Severn – Frankwell Slipway 10:30
Wallasey – Wallasey Beach  18:30
Portrush – West Strand Beach 09:30

You can find more information at Surfers Against Sewage.

More on water pollution: 

The Rivers Trust publishes data following landmark national water study

Environment Agency can’t afford to protect UK water bodies, OEP finds

Quick question: how can we monitor outdoor water quality with FreeUP?

Image: Ben Whitely, PA



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