PM Rishi Sunak defends ‘robust plan’ for improving water quality on a trip to Scarborough

PM Rishi Sunak answers reporters' questions on visit to Scarborough. LDRSPM Rishi Sunak answers reporters' questions on visit to Scarborough. LDRS
PM Rishi Sunak answers reporters' questions on visit to Scarborough. LDRS
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said levels of sewage discharges into the sea in Scarborough were “simply unacceptable”.

On a visit to Scarborough on Thursday, January 25, the prime minister added that the Government had a “robust plan” to resolve issues around bathing water quality.

He said the plan to “resolve all these issues” was working and that “we know how important it is to fix it,” adding: “Some of the levels of discharge we’ve seen are simply unacceptable”.

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Scarborough’s South Bay has once again received a ‘poor’ water quality rating from the Environment Agency which also advises against bathing there.

Local businesses have been impacted by the South Bay’s water quality rating and the owner of a surf school has said that the impacts of poor bathing water quality have made him redundant.

Residents have also expressed concerns about sewage discharges that often occur in times of heavy rainfall and many have said that they avoid the water for days afterwards.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Sunak said he had a three-part plan that involved investing in improved infrastructure, improving regulations, and holding water companies to account.

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He said: “We’ve given the regulator powers to levy unlimited penalties on water companies, which they are using, but also to make sure people are not getting bonus or dividend payments if they haven’t delivered on their environmental targets.

“So look, it’s a pretty robust plan and it’s because of the actions that we’ve taken as a Government over the past few years that we actually know that this is going on.”

Residents and campaigners had gathered at the town’s West Pier in the hope of confronting the prime minister and raising their concerns about poor bathing water quality, as well as over plans for the development of the pier.

They turned up with a variety of placards, banners, and signs that called for an “end to sewage pollution now”.

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Yorkshire Water has said that it will spend £2.8m on measures to reduce the amount of sewage entering the sea from a storm overflow at Wheatcroft, in Scarborough.

On his visit to Scarborough, which did not include a trip to the pier or town centre, Mr Sunak was also asked about his climate change commitments regarding marine pollution.

The prime minister said: “When it comes to climate change, our record is one that we should all be really proud of.”

He added: “I set out a new approach to net zero and of course, we’re going to get there because we care about our kids and the planet that we leave them.

“But we’re going to do that in a pragmatic and proportionate way that is more realistic.”