West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has called on South West Water to clean up its act after bathers were forced to evacuate the sea in St Ives Bay on Saturday when lifeguards received calls advising them that sewage was being pumped into the sea.
Mr George who is demanding answers from South West Water Chief, Chris Loughlin, said, “This isn’t the first incident in the St Ives and St Ives Bay Area. While we await further information about the reasons behind this leak, and of the potential impact, I am bound to ask whether South West Water have a sufficiently robust system in place to cope with the demands of what was unexceptional rainfall.
“If there’s a discharge of this sewage volume on this occasion with what appeared to me to be an unexceptional storm, then this has the potential to occur on a very regular basis. Mitigation measures will be necessary.
“The whole West Cornwall sewerage scheme was highly controversial when it was built 20 years ago and many people warned that it was putting too much pressure on one large system for all of the St Ives, Hayle and Penzance areas. There was never any clarity about the potential sewage pressures from the Camborne and Redruth area. Now this happens.
“But there is a bigger problem too. If this sewage systems cannot cope with the rainfall we had on Saturday morning, how is it going to cope with the 2000 extra houses that are going to be built near Camborne; the 1500 extra houses for Hayle, the 1000 for St Ives and the proposed 1,350 new homes in Penzance?
“This effectively shut down two of Cornwall’s most iconic beaches on one of the best Summer Saturdays at the start of the tourist season. Considering the local economic benefits of tourism, and the pleasures gained by local communities and surf schools, the world class reputation of our beaches cannot be tarnished by repeated sewage issues.
“As South West Water charge the highest water rates in the UK, they must now give something back to our communities who pay these rates. They must now act to resolve the issue completely, rather than papering over the cracks. The reputation of our world class beaches depends on it.”
Mr George has taken the issue up with South West Water and the Environment Agency.