I'm writing following recent analysis of Environment Agency data which revealed English beaches faced 8,500 hours of sewage dumping last year.
Figures indicate that Brighton beach was one of the worst-hit, where Southern Water discharged sewage 45 times in 2022, over a total of more than 107 hours. As you can imagine there is considerable concern from my constituents about the environmental and public health impact of these discharges as well as anxiety for the bathing season ahead. It would be helpful to have a list of all known discharges in Brighton from last year and what was done on each occasion to identify the cause as well as any planned work to address these problems.
I understand that further announcements are due to be made regarding additional funding of "billions of pounds from 2025 onwards" which Southern Water claim will mark the beginning of the end for storm overflows. However I was surprised, especially so given the above data from the Environment Agency, that Brighton isn't mentioned in the embargoed Storm Overflows Additional Funding Announcement Toolkit sent to my office. Is there a reason other areas, with less discharges, have been prioritised over Brighton?
I'm naturally interested in Southern Water's nature based and 'greening' solutions to storm overflows, but it seems clear that, in order to stop discharges completely, improving and investing in the existing network and bringing sewer pipes up to modern standards is essential. Whilst I understand the desire to focus on reducing the volume of surface water and groundwater infiltration which enters sewers, due to our changing climate, we are also experiencing more unpredictable weather which emphasises the urgent need for better infrastructure locally too.
Is it possible to share an updated list of current and future investment that is being planned for the city and any information you have to deal with local discharges between now and 2025? Whilst wider investment in the coming years is welcome, that won't address the environmental and public health issues in the immediate and there is also a very real risk of reputational damage to Brighton's tourist economy if the city becomes widely known as one of the most polluted beaches in the country.
I would appreciate a response in writing to the points above.