Warnings have been issued to visitors at Blackpool, St Anne’s, Cleveleys and Bispham
Beach-goers are being warned after raw sewage was discharged into rivers and the sea in Lancashire during the past 48 hours.
The Surfers Against Sewage charity, which tracks combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and pollution risk forecasts (PRFs) has issued a number of alerts across Lancashire due to heavy rainfall in the last two days.
Overflow sewer and storm pipes have discharged sewage into the River Ribble and Irish Sea along the Fylde Coast.
Combined sewer overflows are safety release valves that pump out human waste from the sewage system into rivers or the sea during periods of heavy rainfall in order to prevent waste from backing up into homes.
An alert for St Anne’s and St Anne’s North beaches reports: “Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours. Water quality may be affected here by a number of sewer overflows that discharge into the River Ribble and the estuary south of the beach.”
Blackpool North beach has also been affected with an alert reporting: “Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours. A sewer overflow discharges south of the beach around the centre of this beach – the sewerage facilities of the area were upgraded in 2010.”
Further north, an alert has also been issued for Cleveleys and Bispham beaches, which states: “Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours. A sewer overflow discharges to the southern end of the bathing water while various overflows from the Blackpool area may also affect water quality at Cleveleys.”
Surfers Against Sewage, which was set up in 1990, is described as “a community dedicated to the protection of oceans, waves, beaches and wildlife”.
The charity’s motto states: “We fight long and hard to protect what we love and we won’t stop until it’s completely clean, safe and protected for everyone, forever.”
In February this year Blackpool Council revealed that annual water sampling and testing was due to resume this year after being suspended due to the Covid pandemic.
Blackpool’s Central, South and North beaches carried forward the results from 2019 and are rated ‘good’, while Bispham maintained its ‘excellent’ classification.
A report read out during a council meeting in February said ongoing protection of the bathing water included monitoring the impact of new longer sea outfall pipes provided at Harrowside and Anchorsholme as part of a £150m investment by United Utilities.
The issue has been at the centre of public debate over the past week after Tory MPs voted against an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have put a legal duty on water companies to stop raw sewage from being dumped into waterways.
Yesterday, however, the UK Government U-turned and announced that legal controls will be placed on water companies that dump raw sewage in rivers and the sea after a significant backlash.