Protest over Southern Water discharges to be held in Ramsgate

A protest will be held in Ramsgate and follows a demo in Margate last weekend Photo Andrew Hastings

A demonstration to protest at Southern Water pumping station and combined sewer discharges into the Thanet coastline will be held in Ramsgate on Saturday (October 30).

Organised by Ramsgate residents and sea swimmers, the protest will be staged at the Western Undercliff from midday to 1pm.

Organisers are expecting a big and colourful turnout and are asking people to wear fancy dress or red for ‘emergency’. They hope to be joined by other Save our Seas groups from around Kent, musicians, poets and speakers, including Margate councillor Rob Yates who has been investigating Southern Water practices, Ramsgate mayor Raushan Ara, Green councillor Tricia Austin and a speaker from Whitstable’s SOS campaign.

County Councillor Karen Constantine, who has been involved in organising the demo, said: “It’s time overdue to stop Southern Water pumping out raw sewage into our sea and onto our beaches.

“It’s time overdue to call on our politicians to take action to protect our seas and our health and well-being.

“It’s time overdue to bring the water companies into public ownership! This is a massive failure of privatisation. Public services and fresh clean water should be for the public good not for shareholders bank accounts. Southern Water shareholders made £622 million profits between 2013 – 2017. A cool £57 billion has been taken off the top of our bills by water companies in the last 30 years! That money should be ploughed back into to infrastructure projects, ending leaking water pipes and rebuilding Victorian sewers.

“What we need now is our politicians to lead, we need a map to show exactly how the water companies are going to be bought under control, water companies need to be forced to invest in infrastructure and to stop polluting our seas and rivers.”

Protester Julie Wassmer Photo Andrew Hastings

The protests follow  combined sewer releases and failures at Southern Water pumping stations which have led to warnings to stay out of the water. The most recent were this month and in June which resulted in the majority of Thanet bays displaying warning signs to stay out of the water.

In June advice was issued against swimming at 11 Thanet beaches after a wastewater release from the Foreness pumping station. There have also been numerous combined sewer outflows affecting water quality.

Wastewater release protest at the Margate pumping station Photo Frank Leppard

A public protest was held in June at the Foreness pumping station and another, organised by Save Our NHS in Kent, was held on Margate harbour steps last weekend.

Margate protest Photo Carl Hudson

In response to the SONiK hosted protest Southern Water said: “We take all concerns raised with us about the performance of our network very seriously. Anyone attending this event can be reassured we hear their concerns and are working hard to improve our performance, with our customers and the environment at the heart of all we do.

“Bathing waters are the cleanest since Environment Agency (EA) testing records began. Of the 83 beaches in Southern Water’s area, 62 are rated good or excellent and none are below acceptable standards. We are spending £2 billion on our infrastructure and the environment, to serve our customers, the environment and boost local economies around our 700 miles of coastline.

“Storm releases during intense periods of rainfall are made through long sea outfalls usually around 2km out to sea and are not raw sewage. They are often more than 95% rainwater. Storm releases operate to protect customers’ homes, schools, hospitals and businesses from flooding and they are tightly regulated by the EA.

Margate demo Photo Andrew Hastings

“We are working towards reducing our reliance on storm releases as quickly as possible. There are huge challenges to overcome from climate change, which we know is going to increase the frequency of intense rainfall events. The population of our region will have increased by 15% in the next 25 years.

“We are pioneering a new approach, building more storm tank capacity where it will have an impact, and prioritising partnership working to prevent rain from reaching our systems through sustainable drainage, water gardens and major natural capital solutions such as enhanced and expanded wetlands.

“Our industry-leading pollution reporting and online storm water release portal, Beachbuoy, is are evidence of our commitment to openness and transparency. We accept and support the public’s call for these practices to change and we are working towards this common goal in partnership with our whole sector, government and a broad range of national and local partners. We are determined to reduce pollutions by more than 50% by 2025.

“We invite those involved with the protest to meet with us to hear about our work, our investment and our commitment to improve service to our customers and discuss ways to work together to achieve a goal we share, to protect the environment.”

A proposal from the Lords to the Environment Bill that would have placed legal duties on the companies to reduce discharges was defeated by 265 MPs’ votes to 202 last week.

South Thanet MP voted against government and was in favour of the Lords’ amendment. North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale could not vote as he chaired the Bill through the committee stages but has voiced his view that “Southern Water (should) take responsibility for their actions.”

A petition calling for a ban on water companies discharging raw sewage into water courses gained 111,434 signatures and will be debated in Parliament on November 15.


    • Seeing as 265 Tory MP’s just voted against an amendment to stop raw sewage being dumped in our waters & he has consistently voted against green plans to reduce climate change etc-no is probably the answer. To his credit he was one of the 22 Tories who actually voted for the bill to stop it happening-but he has remained very quiet during the Southern Water debacles, Roger Gale abstained.

      • Incredible, what could be more important for tourism to Thanet than to ensure clean beaches. WTF is our MP?????? Why isn’t there a revolution?

  1. Over and over again we se examples of private infrastructure functions being returned back to public ownership. The Probation Service, substantial sections of the railways. Because private enterprise is the wrong model for operating the things we rely on.
    Yes to bringing the water companies back into public ownership, so all the money we pay in charges goes to pay for the service, rather than dividends for off-shore investors.

  2. we all hear about massive fines , and more investment bla bla bla , and at the end of the day us mugs will pick up the bill , the mega wealthy will not feel a thing.

  3. Privatisation of these huge companies is all about making profits and not about providing a standard of service the public requires. They should never have been privatised in the first place.
    What happens to the £90 million Southern Water was fined? This should be given back to the customers in the Southern water region to bring their bills down. We are paying for a service that lies to the media about polluting us on the beaches and rivers by saying things on record like – “there is no E-coli pollution” and “more pollution in the water comes from litter, birds and dog mess” – what total crap!!.

  4. Here’s a better protest; everyone in Thanet don’t pay your water rates until they stop dumping s**t and Johnnies into the water, polluting our beaches. They’d listen then I’d wager.

    • This would have a negative impact on your credit rating. We are drafting a letter that will be shared on SOSFacebook group where we demand compensation and a water-rate freeze. Watch that space!

    • Thanet egg , we could all do it for a chosen month, that would cause southern water to think hard about illegally dumping featus

  5. This govt is destroying our country in every way as we have seen with them voting against protecting our rivers and sea – also it will have an impact on people coming for hols – w/e breaks etc if they can’t go on the beaches or in the sea – yes this govt is destroying our country – this is a new type of war from within our own govt and they are winning

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