Nearly 100 incidents of untreated sewage discharged on to Scarborough's beaches in last year, say campaigners

Green activists are calling for action in the wake of new figures revealing the amount of sewage being spilled along Scarborough’s coastline.

Ocean conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage has released a new report which says there were 96 incidents of untreated sewage getting into both North and South Bay in the last year.

Across England and Wales, the report says that water companies were responsible for almost 3,000 raw sewage pollution incidents from licensed combined sewer overflows between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020 – impacting some of the most popular bathing waters and beaches.

Surfers Against Sewage tracks these discharges with real-time data obtained from water companies and provides pollution alerts for 370 beaches through the Safer Seas Service app.

Surfers in Scarborough's South Bay

“I’ve surfed in sewage and industrial waste for 42 years, including surfing in Yorkshire with raw sewage and sanitary pads floating past,” said local surfer Steve Crawford.

“It’s the 21st century, we’ve fought for over 30 years and we’ll keep fighting until industry and Government realise that the sea is not a dump and we should not be their dustmen or their conscience.

“They should act with respect for the oceans and the watermen and women who live it and love it not out of obligation but out of right.

“The companies abusing the right need to be held to account.”

Surfers Against Sewage campaigners want steps taken to prevent sewage polluting Scarborough's coastline

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, added: “With nearly 100 untreated sewage spills in a year, it feels as though Scarborough’s coastal waters are being routinely used as a method for disposing of sewage, instead of in the exceptional circumstances under which it is permitted.

“This feels particularly horrifying in a year where we are all battling the Covid-19 pandemic – a virus that is being tracked through sewage works.”

The charity wants measures brought in to prevent sewage pollution, including tighter water quality legislation and and investment in sewerage infrastructure.

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Water said: “We know how important the Yorkshire coastline is to our customers and visitors and we want to ensure that we are playing our part by using new technology and techniques to drive towards consistently excellent bathing water quality.

“We’ve invested over £100m along Yorkshire’s coastline in recent years to improve bathing water and continue to invest in innovative technologies, working alongside Scarborough Borough Council and the Environment Agency, to make further improvements.

“In Scarborough particularly, we’ve been involved in a £1m bathing water modelling project this year, involving global experts, to further understand the range of factors contributing to bathing water quality in the South Bay.”

In August 2019, The Scarborough News launched our Keep our Coast Clean campaign to encourage visitors to dispose of their litter, ask businesses to reduce single use plastics and ensure no pollution of the seas, and call on the council to ensure proper rubbish collection and beach cleaning teams are in place.

Anyone who would like to support the campaign, or has news relating to it, please contact [email protected]