Sewage: UK risking public health by pumping waste into sea, French politicians say

The UK is risking the environment, marine life and public health by pumping sewage into the sea, three French MEPs have said.

In a joint statement, the three politicians accused the UK of neglecting its environmental commitments as sewage polluted the waters of the English Channel and the North Sea.

“We can’t tolerate that the environment, the economic activity of our fisherman and the health of our citizens are put in danger due to the repeated negligence of the UK in its management of its wastewater,” said Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, a member of the European Union’s committee on fisheries. “The channel and the North Sea are not dumping grounds.”

It follows public warnings about pollution at more than 50 beaches after companies discharged sewage into the sea and after new figures revealed that sewage has been pumped into the environment in England and Wales more than a million times in the past five years.

Between 2016 and 2021, sewage was spilt at least 1,261,498 times in England and Wales, according to Environment Agency data obtained through a freedom of information request by the Labour Party. Last year, on average, a spill lasted for more than seven hours.

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