Sewage UK: Record amount of 's*** and pollution' is 'clogging up' seas and river as sewage released for over 400,000 hours in 2023

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A record amount of “s*** and pollution” is “clogging up” UK seas and rivers as sewage was released for over 400,000 hours in 2023

“S*** and pollution” is “clogging up our seas” as new analysis shows that more than 440,000 hours of sewage was released along England’s coastline in 2023. Thousands of the spills took place close to bathing spots according to campaign group Friends of the Earth which analysed Environment Agency data on sewage overflow outlets to calculate the number and duration of spills directly into the sea and estuaries and near swimming waters.

It found there were 68,481 incidents of sewage released into England’s seas last year, totalling 440,446 hours. More than a quarter of these, some 117,584 hours over 21,213 spills, were within 1.9 miles (3km) of a bathing spot, the assessment found.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The analysis has been released as comedian Nish Kumar fronts a new film with Friends of the Earth, with a spoof news report on the opening of tourist attraction ‘S*** Beach’ on a seaside town’s sewage-ridden beach. The comedian said: “Record-breaking amounts of shit and pollution clogging up our rivers and seas is no joke. If we don’t act now, we’ll all be swapping our swimmers for hazmat suits and packing an E. coli testing kit before hitting the great British seaside this summer.

A record amount of “s*** and pollution” is “clogging up” UK seas and rivers as sewage was released for over 400,000 hours in 2023. (Photo: Jonathan Salariya/Friends of the Earth/PA Wire)A record amount of “s*** and pollution” is “clogging up” UK seas and rivers as sewage was released for over 400,000 hours in 2023. (Photo: Jonathan Salariya/Friends of the Earth/PA Wire)
A record amount of “s*** and pollution” is “clogging up” UK seas and rivers as sewage was released for over 400,000 hours in 2023. (Photo: Jonathan Salariya/Friends of the Earth/PA Wire)

“We can’t let water companies have the last laugh, as their shareholders pocket huge payouts while our bills increase. We need to show that we give too much of a shit about our beaches and rivers to let them end up being a national health hazard.”

Friends of the Earth identified all sewage outflows in coastal or estuary waters, or within 500 metres of the sea, to analyse the number and duration of spills into the water. The campaign group also used the location of coastal bathing waters to summarise sewage spills within the vicinity of beaches, and identified all swimming spots which had warnings not to swim due to pollution or for reduced water quality in 2023, to see where was being most affected.

It identified Cowes Beach on the Isle of Wight as the most affected, with nearly 5,000 hours of sewage released near the bathing spot in 2023, followed by Meadfoot in Torbay and Plymouth Hoe West. Kierra Box, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the new film was a spoof but “could be a taste of what’s to come if the government doesn’t force water companies to clean up their act”.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.