Published: 15:49, 23 June 2021
| Updated: 21:11, 23 June 2021
Advice not to enter the sea along the coastline after sewage leaks has been lifted today.
Waste water was released into the sea between Margate Main Sands and Joss Bay in Broadstairs last week, after Foreness Pumping Station was struck by lightning.
Traders fear the financial problems they face due to the sewage leak
And it has now been revealed businesses that have been directly impacted by the leaks will receive compensation from Southern Water.
A commitment to cover the costs incurred by the council in responding to the incident has also been provided.
Southern Water has been carrying out clean-up operations, as warnings against taking a dip at 11 beaches between the two towns remained in place for a week.
Signs will now be removed at the bays where guidance against bathing had previously been in place since the lightning strike last Wednesday.
Thanet District Council has released a statement this afternoon which announced earlier advice not to enter the sea has been lifted.
"Throughout the incident the council has continued to seek advice and guidance around bathing water quality in liaison with the Environment Agency," it states.
"Due to the time that has elapsed and the number of tidal cycles that have passed, it is considered a notable reduction in risk.
"Following a constructive meeting between senior council officials, the local MPs and the chief executive of Southern Water on Tuesday, assurances have been provided that reasonable compensation will be provided by Southern Water, to local businesses that have been directly impacted.
"A commitment to cover the costs incurred by the council in responding to the incident has also been provided, along with an offer to fund community related beach support in the coming weeks."
The sewage leaks were described as an "environmental and financial disaster" by furious council bosses.
About 200 protesters took to the streets on Sunday afternoon, marching from the district council offices in Cecil Street, Margate, to the pumping station in Prince’s Walk.
Thanet District Council Ash Ashbee penned a stinging letter to Southern Water CEO Ian McAulay, demanding he guarantee this situation will not happen again.
“I write to you to express my utter dismay at the failure of your waste water pumping station at Foreness Point on Wednesday night (June 16),” the Conservative said.
“Given the repetitive failure of this plant for more than a decade, I do not accept that an act of God is in any way an excuse for this latest environmental and financial disaster in our district.
“Surely your company has an emergency protocol in place to mitigate against any such eventuality at what is a critical part of your infrastructure.
“Yet again, we find ourselves in the same catastrophic situation with beaches closed and businesses that are struggling to recover from the pandemic losing tens of thousands of pounds in trade.
“On behalf of the residents and businesses of Thanet, I request that Southern Water recognises its failures and compensates both the council for the costs incurred with the clean-up operation and all local businesses for their loss of trade.”
Activists had demanded Southern Water pays compensation to businesses impacted by the subsequent reduction in tourism to the Thanet coast.
They also said the company’s customers in the district “who pay for water treatment, management and appropriate disposal” should be reimbursed.
In 2016, Southern Water was fined £2 million after untreated sewage polluted the sea at Margate four years earlier.
The pumping station was said to have been overwhelmed following a heavy storm, before detritus like tissues, sanitary pads, condoms and wipes were discovered along the coast.
And in 2019, the company was fined a further £126 million after serious failures were discovered in its sewage treatment sites. This came after a probe led by regulator Ofwat revealed the firm did not manage equipment used to clean and treat waste water.
Local businesses affected should contact Barry.Woodham@southernwater.co.uk. Members of the public are advised to contact Southern Water on 0330 303 0368 to report any concerns should there be further evidence of any impact following the high tides.