A Problem with Our Sewage System by Bob Latimer and Steve Lavelle

Over twenty years ago there was a new ‘Storm Water Pumping System’ built to protect our beaches and coastal waters at Whitburn and Seaburn near Sunderland.  There was immediate evidence that sewage was being discharged to sea contaminating the fishing and polluting the beach, and this has continued to this day despite constant protests, a Public Inquiry and a EUCJ case found against the UK. 

Recently, just like other parts of the country, there have been a number of planning applications for many new houses and so local people have queried how there can be capacity in the sewage system, when there is constant spilling already. The local Council decided that Councillors could not question the Water Company’s assurance that there was capacity; that this was not within the LPA’s remit.

Luckily we contacted ELF’s Emma Montlake who obtained a legal opinion from Alex Shattock which highlights that the LPA has a legal duty to ensure capacity in the sewage system exists for new building.  This has been forwarded to our two local Councils and we await confirmation that they will change their views! It is also vital that there is independent scrutiny of local infrastructure so that our coastal and river waters are protected from sewage discharges, and we are glad to have the support of local groups and ELF to try to make this happen locally, and nationally.

The Environment Agency appear helpless to carry out their regulatory duties in this case and are intending to just add additional illegally connected flows to the Permit without public advertising or input and so there is a local Petition (http://bit.ly/30vyD6A) to try to ensure public knowledge of, and participation in, this process.

Our grateful thanks to ELF’s Emma and Alex Shattock for their help. Bob Latimer and Steve Lavelle.