Protesters gather in Newquay over sewage dumping

protesters in Newquay
Protesters in Newquay Credit: ITV News

Hundreds of people have gathered in Newquay for the first National Day of Action on Water Quality.

The event organised by Cornish charity Surfers Against Sewage called on South West Water to end sewage pollution.

The march from Fistral Beach to the the town's Killacourt on Saturday (23 April) was one of 12 mass gatherings to take place across the country.

Surfers Against Sewage say the event follows newly released data from the Environment Agency showing the extent to which water companies discharged raw sewage into English rivers.

Protesters in Newquay Credit: ITV News

Amy Slack, Surfers Against Sewage: ''We saw sewage was being pumped into our environment a massive 270,000 times that's 2.6 million hours of sewage discharge into our waterways, our coastlines, our rivers across the country. We're just sick of it, so we've come out onto the streets today to demand water companies take action to end sewage pollution.''

The Newquay protest featured speeches from Amy Slack of Surfers Against Sewage, Journalist and One Show presenter Lucy Siegle and Paralympic Triathlete and World Champion Surfer Melissa Reid.

Melissa says she has experienced sewage pollution in the sea first hand.

Melissa Reid: ''It prevents you from being able to train, it prevents you from going into the water. If you can see it it's too late. I'm visually impaired so I don't actually get to see most of it, I just end up in it which isn't pleasant.''

Melissa Reid Credit: ITV News

South West Water says it is committed to reducing its impact on river water quality and the use of storm overflows. It says combined storm overflows are designed to release excess storm water into rivers and seas when a prolonged rainfall occurs. This helps prevent the risk of sewage backing up, preventing homes and public spaces being flooded by allowing a controlled release.

In a statement the company told ITV News: “We have been listening to and talking with customers, communities and campaigners right across our region to develop WaterFit our plans to protect rivers and seas together.

WaterFit will dramatically reduce our use of storm overflows, maintain our region’s excellent bathing water quality standards all year round and reduce and then remove our impact on river water quality by 2030. We also want to put nature on everyone’s doorstep, look to introduce inland bathing, create and restore habitats, inspire local champions to help us make lasting improvements and work towards a more sustainable future – all anchored in our commitment to give the data to our customers and the public that puts them in control.

We will be visiting over 150 communities across the region to hear from our customers alongside our dedicated Customer AGM and regular WaterShare+ customer meetings. Working with partners and customers WaterFit will begin to deliver the change we all want to see.”