Campaigners meet with Southern Water to demand action over sewage releases into sea

Campaigners gathered outside before the meeting Credit: ITV NEWS MERIDIAN

More than 100 people have attended a public meeting with Southern Water bosses to call for action after repeated sewage releases into the sea.

Campaigners have been calling for more transparency and demanded to know how the company planned to improve its tarnished record.

The group met in Ramsgate last night (April 21), with the following aims:

  • Compensation for business

  • Water testing so swimmers would know when the sea became safe after a sewage release

  • Improved communication from Southern Water

Campaigners react to the meeting with Southern Water.

ITV Meridian cameras weren't invited inside but the company says it is making massive investment to improve the sewage system.

Dr Toby Willison, Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer for Southern Water, said: “Last night’s constructive and open conversation is an important part of restoring public trust and confidence.

"We understand that what matters most is seeing our performance continue to improve.

"We’re going to ensure the excellent dialogue started at the meeting continues by setting up a stakeholder group."

In July last year Southern Water was fined £90 million for deliberately dumping raw sewage into seas and rivers thousands of times.

Members of Save Our Seas Ramsgate held a demonstration over sewage releases into the sea in October Credit: Steven Collis

The company admitted to 6,971 illegal spills between January 2010 and December 2015 across 17 sites in Kent, West Sussex and Hampshire. Almost all of the sites were in protected, picturesque coastal areas.

And there have been a number of incidents which have led to swimming being banned off the Thanet coast. In June 2021, beaches had to be closed after a lightning strike damaged a Southern Water site in Margate.

In recent months campaigners have held protests calling for action, gathering on beaches with banners and the Mayor of Ramsgate.

Hundreds protest after sewage repeatedly discharged into the sea in north Kent

Southern Water fined £90 million over sewage spills

Campaigners hold third protest over sewage releases along Kent coast