Beaches closed after sewage released into the sea at Bexhill

  • Video by @BEMatters

Beaches at Bexhill and Normans Bay in East Sussex have been closed after sewage was released into the sea.

Rother District Council made the decision to shut the beaches off to the public following the incident on Wednesday night.

Posting on Twitter, Southern Water said: "We’re very sorry to say that a significant issues with electrical power at one of our wastewater pumping stations has caused a release into the sea at Bexhill.

"Rother District Council has made the difficult decision to advise the closure of Bexhill and Normans Bay beaches."

The utilities firm has blamed a failure at its pumping station at Galley Hill on Wednesday afternoon.

Toby Willison from Southern Water said: "there were two discharges between 3pm and about 4:40pm, and then again at 5:30pm and 6:20pm.

"Those were due to power failures, both the primary and back up power supply to the pumping station failed and we had releases.

Bexhill beach was closed on Thursday 17 August following a sewage discharge.

"I can only apologise to the residents of Bexhill, Normans Bay and Hastings - this is a failure of one of our assets.

"We're working with the local authority and Environment Agency to understand the specifics of what happened.

"We have been undertaking beach cleans, beach walking and the beaches are unfortunately closed at the moment.

"We've got temporary power generation on site, so back up generators and we've got 24/7 attendance at the site as well."

The firm has denied that the problem has been caused by a lack of investment in its services and infrastructure.

Mr Willison added: "The pollution at Bexhill is due to the power outage and failure of our asset.

"The spilling of CSOs over the last 36 hours are associated with the very heavy rainfall after a prolonged dry period.

"Those are two separate and distinct issues."

  • Toby Willison, Director of Quality and Environment at Southern Water

Southern Water says the solution to on-going discharges is a combination of factors, which involves building bigger treatment works, bigger storm storage, but also using nature-based solutions and wetlands to reduce the amount of surface water which gets into the combines system.

The firm also reiterated that the spills are legal but that further work needs to take place to prevent them in the long term.

It's not known how long the beaches will stay closed, though a spokesperson for Rother Council said they could stay shut until Saturday.