A Merman and several ‘walking jellyfish’ yesterday, accompanied by swimmers and supporters, were part of a gathering of campaigners taking part in a triple dip at Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate beaches yesterday (October 30) to demand action is taken over Southern Water sewage outfalls into our seas.
The crowd, organised by SOS Ramsgate, included members of Rise Up Clean Up Margate, Thanet Friends of the Earth, Surfers Against Sewage, Plastic Free Thanet, Thanet Green and Labour Party.
The gathering marked one year since Last October SOS Ramsgate organised a protest at the Western Undercliff that was attended by some 300 people. It followed protests in Margate held in the wake of sewer outfall discharges that shut down the majority of the isle’s beaches in June and October that year.
The dippers plunged into the water at Margate main sands, Viking Bay and Ramsgate Main Sands in a bid to keep the issue of sewage releases in the public eye whilst demanding action is finally taken on a community stakeholder group and citizen water testing kit pledged by Southern Water at a meeting in April.
Demonstrators also demanded to know what action South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay is taking.
Video by Frank Leppard
SOS Ramsgate member Sue Gyde told the crowd at Ramsgate: “We were promised a community stakeholder group but nothing has happened.
“We also want the citizens’ science testing kit which means we can test the water when we want to.”
Green councillor Becky Wing, who was one of the triple dippers, said: “We have got to keep this narrative going, clean seas and water that’s all we want.”
Cllr Wing has also been undertaking a dip a day to raise money for Surfers Against Sewage. She was due to finish today (October 31) but has pledged to keep going until day 46 so she has one more day than Liz Truss held the role of Prime Minister.
Mr Mackinlay says he has been in communication with Southern Water, the last time being on October 18.
He added: ““The real time testing equipment is to be implemented imminently and they laid out other action points that were promised including £Bn investment into improvements. It’s all very well people thinking that this is a problem with an overnight fix, I wish it were, but I am satisfied enough at this stage that the new Environment Act is a statutory pathway to eradicating the issue of sewage discharges, albeit over a long-term period.”
A Southern Water spokesperson said prior to the protest: “We recognise the concerns of those who are protesting in Thanet.
“It is important to us that we work closely with our communities, and we remain committed to creating a stakeholder group in this area. We are in talks with Thanet District Council on how this might look.
“We are also continuing to trial ways to best help groups carry out accurate water quality testing and we are currently working on an approach with Canterbury City Council. The results will inform any possible approach in Thanet.
“While we have a key role, improving and maintaining water quality requires the input of many partners in finding solutions to the variety of factors that affect it. These include road and agricultural run-off. We are committed to reducing our use of storm overflows and are working hard to seek ways to remove rainfall from the sewage network.”