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There were 59,079 dumps in shellfish waters in 2020 and 2021, an analysis of Environment Agency data has revealed. Tim Farron, Lib Dem environment spokesman, said fishermen’s livelihoods “are threatened by sewage poisoning Britain’s shellfish”.
He warned prawns, crayfish, lobsters and crabs are all at risk. This cannot continue a moment longer, we need to see action immediately.
“Every day that more sewage is allowed to be pumped into the water, another shellfish habitat suffers and fishermen’s livelihoods are jeopardised.”
Lib Dem analysis revealed South West Water dumped sewage into shellfish water in the Fal Estuary 120 times for 2,366 hours in 2021.
And United Utilities dumped sewage 226 times for 5,352 hours, affecting shellfish in Morecambe Bay East and Lune.
MP Philip Dunne, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said enforcing the “polluters pay” principle will be a crucial component in cleaning up the nation’s rivers.
If water companies know they’ll be hit by a heavy fine for illegally polluting, they’ll change their practices and invest to avoid breaking the law.
“This Conservative Government is already imposing record fines on illegally polluting water companies, but lifting the cap on civil offence fines will reinforce the message.”
The Daily Express Green Britain Needs You campaign has highlighted the problem.
Campaigners this week launched a declaration calling for water firms to “stop pollution for profit” and urged regulators to “protect the victims, not the polluters”.
Amy Slack, of River Action, said: “It’s time to end sewage pollution for good. This is an emergency.”
Becky Malby, of the Ilkley Clean River Group, said the nation’s rivers are used as “open sewers”.
South West Water said: “We recognise the vital economic importance of our region’s designated shellfish waters, and we are investing further and faster to continue to bring down spills at these sites and across our 860 miles of coastline.”
United Utilities said: “We are already investing £230million to reduce the frequency of storm overflow operation by one third up to 2025.”
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