Shocking drone footage shows raw sewage being pumped into sea in conservation area

26 October 2021, 17:35 | Updated: 26 October 2021, 17:54

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Shocking drone footage shows raw sewage being pumped into the sea in a conservation area amid a growing backlash over the practice.

The footage, shot last week by photographer Chris Pearsall, shows untreated sewage being released near Langstone Harbour in Hampshire through a large pipe.

Mr Pearsall said it poured out for 49 hours.

READ MORE: Campaigners demand end to raw sewage being dumped in rivers after MPs voted not to stop it

It comes as Downing Street said it "completely agrees" that it is unacceptable for water companies to dump raw sewage in the country's rivers and seas, but defended the Government's actions after Tory MPs voted against an amendment to the Environment Bill.

Campaigners, including Surfers Against Sewage, said they were disappointed 268 MPs - against 204 - disagreed with the proposal, which included putting a legal duty on water companies to stop sewage from being poured into waterways.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today the intentions of the amendment to the bill is "already being delivered".

He said: "We completely agree that the current failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is unacceptable."

The spokesman added that the amendment put forward by the Duke of Wellington "remains un-costed", but "the initial assessments are over £150 billion and that would mean that individuals - every one of us as taxpayers - paying potentially thousands of pounds each as a result."

Downing Street said that, as a result, "it's not right to sign a blank cheque on behalf of customers without understanding the trade-offs and the bills that would be involved", but "tougher legal duties" are being placed on water companies and "we will continue to listen to MPs who have legitimate concerns".

MPs who voted against the amendment have also come under fire from campaigners and Defra, which said it was unacceptable that raw sewage was put into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times in the last year.

The Shadow Defra secretary, Luke Pollard, said: "People are right to be upset at the dreadful state of England's rivers. Not one English river is in a healthy condition and there has been zero improvement since 2016.

"The Government is to blame for allowing water companies to vent raw sewage into our rivers and sea seemingly at will."

The bill is going back before peers for scrutiny today.