Published: 06:00, 07 October 2019
| Updated: 17:17, 07 October 2019
A seaside beauty spot is under threat from "raw sewage" flowing from a storm drain, city council chiefs fear.
The local authority says the spills, which happen during periods of heavy rainfall, are washing into the mouth of Bishopstone Glen in Beltinge.
KMTV report on Kent's beaches polluted by sewage
In a report outlining plans to manage the site for the next five years, officers fear the foul-smelling waste water is damaging the valley’s plants and wildlife.
They said: “The sewage overflow from the storm drain at the top of the stream is washing raw sewage into the river when rain water levels are high.
“This could cause damage to the fragile ecosystem of the glen as well as being a potential environmental and health hazard.”
Figures compiled by charity Surfers Against Sewage earlier this year revealed beaches in Tankerton and Herne Bay had 16 and 14 spills respectively between May and July.
But Southern Water, the company responsible for the discharges, insists they largely consist of water from washing machines, showers and dishwashers.
A spokesman for the firm said: “Our consented emergency outfall, sometimes known as a combined sewer outfall, at Bishopstone Glen releases storm water during heavy rainfall.
“Storm water is treated, heavily diluted waste water, including rainfall and bathwater, and this is released via the outfall to help protect homes and other properties from flooding.
“We recognise the importance of the environment around us and always aim to improve and invest our pipes and assets wherever possible.”
Surfers Against Sewage also say “storm sewage” has been discharged from a sewer overflow in Tankerton between September 25 and 27.
But Southern Water again insisted what is released is “not raw sewage” but “heavily diluted” waste water.
Council officers also say litter collecting in the stream and on the valley side is threatening wildlife and harming the area’s aesthetics.
Reculver councillor Rachel Carnac believes improving access to the mouth of the glen would make it easier to clear the area of rubbish.
“It’s quite steep down to the beach so it’s difficult for anyone to make it clean, so it needs opening up,” she said.
“The issue that mainly gets mentioned there is the trees because there can be issues with them overgrowing and trying to improve recreational use.
“I think a lot of people have felt the area hasn’t been cared for particularly well in recent years and that it’s not been suitable for families to go to.”
The officers also say the nearby woodland requires greater attention - otherwise it could be at risk of becoming “derelict and unsafe”.
The document was published after the council launched a consultation into the management of Bishopstone Glen.