Surfers rally on North Tyneside beach to highlight fight to improve water quality

The protest at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside was part of a national day of action to try and improve water quality right across the UK. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Environmental campaigners from Surfers Against Sewage gathered on a North Tyneside beach calling for more action to improve bathing water quality.

The rally including families, swimmers and dog-walkers on Cullercoats beach was part of a national campaign for cleaner waterways and seas. 

Surfers against Sewage claim that figures from the Environment Agency show Northumbrian Water was responsible for discharging sewage into UK rivers more than thirty-six thousand times in 2021.

Andrew Riley from Surfers Against Sewage said: "For the last four or five years, Cullercoats hasn't got its Blue Flag, the only one on North Tyneside so we are campaigning to get Northumbrian Water and the council to do more to get that Blue Flag status back. 

"In the North East we are really blessed with some of the best beaches in the country and I think people are waking up to the fact that going into the ocean is good for your physical and mental health and there's been an explosion in popularity and that's why the need for better water quality is even stronger than it's ever been."

Surfers against Sewage are calling for an end to the discharge of sewage pollution into UK bathing waters by 2030. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

North Tyneside Council has been investigating why the water quality at Cullercoats bay has dropped in recent years and said in a statement: "Since 2017, we have been working alongside Northumbrian Water and the Environment Agency, to investigate the reasons why the water quality has deteriorated at Cullercoats.

"A huge amount of work has been carried out on privately-owned sites and public spaces to try and remedy this problem and further improvements are being explored."  

Northumbrian Water told ITV Tyne Tees: "We share the passion for our North East coastline demonstrated by the campaigners and our customers.

"32 of our region's 34 Bathing Water meet Defra's top two standards is a really positive indicator of the water quality along our beaches.

"Everyone can play their part in ensuring our region has great Bathing Waters.

"Simple acts such as picking up litter and dog poo on beaches, and putting wet wipes and sanitary products in the bin instead of down the toilet, can all help to protect our environment and ensure things like this do not appear on our beaches.

"We've led significant partnership investigations since 2017 into the reasons behind the water issues, which have shown no evidence of our assets being a primary cause for the deterioration in bathing water quality."