Public warned to avoid 83 UK beaches after sewage leaks into waters - the areas to avoid

An underwater filmmaker said this “could go into the summer” and it is “an ecocide in the making”

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Members of the public have been told to steer clear of 83 beaches across the UK after sewage has leaked into the waters.

Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) issued the new pollution alerts after heavy rainfall over recent days caused waste water to leak into the sea.

One alert has been applied to TripAdvisor’s named best beach in the UK, Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk. Other popular tourist destinations affected by the warnings include Brighton, Scarborough, Blackpool and Whitstable.

The SAS warned: "A large, 3km stretch of sand backed by a promenade, gardens and the town with timber groynes found along its length. Gorleston-on-Sea became popular in Edwardian times and is still a busy seaside resort.

“A number of sewer overflows discharge into the River Yare that flows to the sea at the northern end of the beach."

Izzy Ross, Campaigns Manager at SAS, told NationalWorld sewage discharges when it rains will continue “as long as profiteering water companies, lax regulators and a blundering government let it happen.”

In just one year, England and Wales’ waterways had sewage pumped into them for at least 3.4 million hours, according to recent figures analysed by Top of the Poops.

The River Severn was the most polluted river in 2021. It saw 28,741 hours of sewage pumped into it on 2,656 occasions by Severn Trent Water.

Ms Ross said it is “horrific that our waterways pay the price, whilst water companies profit from pollution.”

She added: “We wish it was surprising to see the mammoth spike in sewage pollution alerts when it rains. We know all too well that the current sewage infrastructure can’t cope with rainfall after decades of underinvestment.

(Image by NationalWorld/Kim Mogg/Adobe Stock) (Image by NationalWorld/Kim Mogg/Adobe Stock)
(Image by NationalWorld/Kim Mogg/Adobe Stock)

‘We are here due to decisions of stupidity and corporate greed’

Underwater filmmaker at Beneath British Waters Mark Barrow hit out at the sewage leaks, saying it has been caused "due to major decisions of stupidity and corporate greed”.

He told NationalWorld he was ill for four days after filming alongside Paul Whitehouse for BBC series Our Troubled Rivers, looking at the pressures affecting rivers and waterways from water companies.

Mr Barrow said he “fails to understand how these discharges are occurring.”

He added: “We really have not had exceptional weather but yet again we are ending up with huge amounts of sewage pouring into our coastal waters which will have a massive effect on marine life. It truly is an ecocide in the making. We even have the technology to properly treat this but sadly that costs money.

“This could go into the summer as it would appear that at the first drop of rain these areas get triggered and sewage is then discharged. Unfortunately we have ignored this for far too long and while ever huge sums of money are in play the environment will suffer.”

The Environment Agency has been approached for comment on the latest sewage leaks.


Which beaches have been issued a sewage pollution alert?

Using an interactive map, SAS highlighted 83 beaches across the UK to avoid. These are:

  • Dhoon Bay
  • Spittal
  • Warkworth
  • Amble Links
  • Druridge Bay North
  • Druridge Bay South
  • Blyth South Beach
  • Tynemouth Cullercoats
  • Seaham Hall Beach
  • Seaham Beach
  • Seaton Carew North
  • Redcar Coatham
  • Redcar Granville
  • Redcar Stray
  • Marske Sands
  • Saltburn
  • Whitby
  • Scarborough North Bay
  • Scarborough South Bay
  • Bridlington South Beach
  • Heacham
  • Gorleston Beach
  • Southend Three Shells
  • Southend Jubilee Beach
  • Sheerness Canterbury
  • Minster Leas
  • Leysdown
  • West Beach, Whitstable
  • Tankerton
  • Herne Bay Central
  • Herne Bay
  • Sandgate
  • Hythe
  • St Marys Bay (Kent)
  • St Leonards
  • Bexhill
  • Normans Bay
  • Pevensey Bay
  • Seaford
  • Saltdean
  • Brighton Kemptown
  • Brighton Central - Brighton
  • Hove Lawn
  • Littlehampton
  • Bognor Regis East
  • Bognor Regis (Aldwick)
  • Pagham
  • Langstone Harbour
  • Eastney
  • Southsea East
  • Stokes Bay
  • Ryde
  • Seagrove
  • St Helens
  • Bembridge
  • Whitecliff Bay
  • Yaverland
  • Sandown
  • Shanklin
  • Lee-on-Solent
  • Hillhead
  • Cowes
  • Gurnard
  • Colwell Bay
  • Totland Bay
  • Pentewan
  • Dunster North West
  • Weston Main
  • Weston-super-Mare Sand Bay
  • Wharfe at Cromwheel - Ilkley Bathing Water
  • Southport
  • St Annes
  • St Annes North
  • Blackpool South
  • Blackpool Central
  • Blackpool North
  • Bispham
  • Cleveleys
  • Fleetwood
  • Morecambe North
  • Walney Biggar Bank
  • Walney Sandy Gap
  • Walney West Shore
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