Campaigners protesting sewage spills in Yorkshire warned not to swim in sea due to ‘poor water quality’

One protester said it is a “classic example of how bad things can get” as Yorkshire Water said work to fix the situation will start “in the next two years”

Anti-sewage campaigners were told not to enter the sea at two beaches in Yorkshire as they gathered to protest against water firms dumping waste.

More than 100 activists met at South Bay in Scarborough on Saturday (20 May) as part of environment group Surfers Against Sewage ‘Paddle Out Protest’ which took place at 12 locations across the UK, including on the River Trent in Staffordshire and the River Great Ouse in Bedford.

Campaigns were warned not to swim in the sea at Scarborough South and Bridlington South beaches due to the poor water quality.

In Scarborough, Steve Crawford from SAS told BBC News that when the activists went towards the waters edge they were told not to go in, which is “a classic example of how bad things can get”.

He said: “There have been apologies form the water companies but it’s been a long time coming. We need to keep pushing them to make sure that things improve."

Sewage campaigners warned not to swim in sea due to ‘poor quality’. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire) Sewage campaigners warned not to swim in sea due to ‘poor quality’. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
Sewage campaigners warned not to swim in sea due to ‘poor quality’. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Yorkshire Water responded that work to sort the situation at Scarborough beach will start “in the next two years”.

The water firm’s chief executive Nicola Shaw said: "Scarborough South and Bridlington South are beaches in which there is more work to do. In Scarborough, we have brought forward money and we will be starting work in the next two years to do more things to sort out the situation.

"In Bridlington we are working with the Environment Agency and the local authority to understand it more, because at the moment we don’t know what work to do to improve the condition of the beach there."

It comes after SAS in March warned the public to avoid 83 beaches due to sewage pollution and both Scarborough and Bridlington South beach were included in the list. The charity raised the alert as sewage leaks had worsened after heavy rainfall.

Water firms issued a “we are sorry” statement last week over the amount of sewage being dumped into UK rivers and beaches, but campaigners slammed it as “pathetic”.

Protesters told NationalWorld they are “really fed up” at the quality of water “getting worse and worse”.

The government also announced a £10 billion investment plan to upgrade sewer networks - but the public is set to pay towards the works through higher bills and campaigners said it is “outrageous”.

Caroline Quaife, 60, who has been swimming regularly for years and attended the SAS protest at Essex Bridge in Staffordshire, said it is “outrageous that water firms should take £60 billion in profits then ask for £10 billion from the public purse.”

She added: “It makes me really angry. And it makes me angry that we have a government that thinks that’s okay.”

SAS is calling for a 90% drop in sewage discharges by the end of the decade, while campaigners have warned nationwide protests “will continue” until water companies commit to “stop making profits out of killing wildlife”.