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Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Westbrook beaches remain no-swim zones after Southern Water wastewater release


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A council's advice not to enter the sea remains in place at 14 beaches following the weekend after an "unscreened waste water release".

Warnings to swimmers remain in place between Westbrook Bay and the Western Undercliff in Ramsgate.

Tonight's Lowdown looked at Kent's sewage spill saga

It follows a fault at Southern Water’s Wastewater Pumping Station in Broadstairs on Tuesday.

Previous advice issued by Thanet District Council on Tuesday covered Botany Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Joss Bay, Stone Bay and Viking Bay.

But advice soon changed advising the public not to enter the water have been put in place at 14 beaches from Westbrook Bay around the coast to the Western Undercliff in Ramsgate.

Any beaches west of Westbrook Bay are the only ones unaffected in the district, which includes St Mildred's Bay, West Bay and Minnis Bay.

Margate Main Sands is one of the beaches affected by a "unscreened wastewater release" by Southern Water. Stock image
Margate Main Sands is one of the beaches affected by a "unscreened wastewater release" by Southern Water. Stock image

A statement by Thanet District Council says: "Daily calls continue between Southern Water, the Environment Agency and Thanet District Council to assess the impact on the coastline.

"Contractors for Southern Water have carried out beach inspections every day to assess the impact of the spill and to clean up any evidence of debris.

"Council officers are also continuing to carry out visual inspections.

"The situation is improving, however as there has continued to be evidence of some items being washed up onto the shoreline, the advice for now remains in place."

The advice not to enter the sea covers the following 14 beaches:

  • Ramsgate Western Undercliff
  • Ramsgate Main Sands
  • Ramsgate East Cliff
  • Dumpton Gap
  • Louisa Bay
  • Viking Bay
  • Stone Bay
  • Joss Bay
  • Kingsgate Bay
  • Botany Bay
  • Palm Bay
  • Walpole Bay
  • Margate Main Sands
  • Westbrook Bay

There have been a number of leaks by Southern Water across the east Kent coast this month as heavy rain battered the county.

The council's foreshore team estimates the advice covers 12 to 15 miles of coastline, including all of the inlets and bays.

Cllr Ash Ashbee said she spoke with Southern Water’s chief executive to express her "extreme dissatisfaction"
Cllr Ash Ashbee said she spoke with Southern Water’s chief executive to express her "extreme dissatisfaction"

People have been urged not to enter the sea or the area of beach below the high water mark.

Inspections are being undertaken by Southern Water in the affected areas to assess the impact and to ensure the beaches are cleared following the high tide.

The council has said it will "continue to monitor the situation closely" alongside Southern Water and the Environment Agency.

Thanet District Council leader Cllr Ash Ashbee (Con) said on Tuesday: "Incidents of pollution on our beaches are not only unacceptable but should simply not happen.

"As soon as I was alerted to this latest incident I spoke with Southern Water’s chief executive to express my extreme dissatisfaction and find myself yet again asking for an explanation.

What do you think should be done about the Southern Waters sewage leaks?

"I obviously feel the frustration of local residents and businesses and will continue to push for a longer term and more robust response around the promised improvement and investment in Thanet’s waste water system.

"Our coastline and beautiful beaches, arguably our most important natural assets, should not have to sustain continued environmental damage. Rest assured this is a fight I will continue to take to the highest possible level."

There have been a number of waste water releases across Kent this month, including in Whitstable, Herne Bay, Thanet and Folkestone.

Southern Water said in a statement last week there was a fault with pumps at the Broadstairs Wastewater Pumping Station and the resulting wastewater release "was quickly stopped".

Protest against Southern Water sewage leaks in Thanet earlier this year. Picture: Frank Leppard photography
Protest against Southern Water sewage leaks in Thanet earlier this year. Picture: Frank Leppard photography

The firm said they had committed to inspections at all of the beaches for at least five days following the incident, and longer if needed, with immediate clean-ups undertaken if required.

The statement added: "A full investigation will also be undertaken to understand the cause of the fault.

"Southern Water is passionately committed to the environment and part of this is being fully transparent about how we operate.

"We’re leading the way within the water industry with pollution reporting, and the Beachbouy Bathing Water Portal is part of this. We’re also very heavily invested in cutting pollution incidents, reducing them by 75% by 2025. In Thanet, this includes a first-of-its-kind surface water drainage survey for the area.

"Across the Southern Water region, we’re investing £200 million a year for wastewater assets and environmental protection."

Southern Water have said a "full investigation" will take place after "unscreened waste water release" was released leading to beaches in Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Westbrook becoming no-swim zones
Southern Water have said a "full investigation" will take place after "unscreened waste water release" was released leading to beaches in Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Westbrook becoming no-swim zones

The incident comes after Southern Water was slapped with a record £90 million fine in July after unleashing up to 21 billion litres of sewage into protected water between 2010 and 2015.

Last month it was reported the firm would pay £100,000 in compensation to Thanet District Council, after raw sewage leaked into the sea following a lightning strike on a pumping station.

People were warned to stay out of the water after the incident in June, when the water company's building at Foreness Point was hit in a storm.

It caused waste water to pump into the sea between Margate main sands and Joss Bay in Broadstairs.

The leaks sparked anger, prompting protesters to march to the pumping station, while council bosses slammed the situation as an "environmental and financial disaster".

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered to protest against sewage being discharged into the sea.

The march happened in Whitstable on Saturday following safety and environmental concerns regarding Southern Water's discharges of waste water.

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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