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Southern Water treats New Forest 'like an open sewer' says charity River Action



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A NATIONAL environmental charity is calling on Southern Water to stop treating the New Forest "like an open sewer".

River Action said the company discharged raw sewage into Lymington and Beaulieu rivers more than 250 times last year.

The charity's call for action follows publication of a damning Environmental Agency report which slated Southern Water for its record on pollution, legal compliance and the security of its water supply.

Southern Water discharged sewage into Lymington and Beaulieu (pictured) rivers 900 times over the last three years, according to River Action
Southern Water discharged sewage into Lymington and Beaulieu (pictured) rivers 900 times over the last three years, according to River Action

According to River Action, Southern Water discharged sewage into Lymington and Beaulieu rivers 900 times over the last three years.

The company responded by saying it was investing "record amounts" to protect the environment.

River Action's call was backed by Professor Russell Wynn, director of local conservation group Wild New Forest.

He said: “The rivers and streams of the New Forest should be some of the cleanest in the country, but they are regularly being flushed with a noxious mix of pollutants expelled from wastewater treatment works.

"We are yet to see a firm commitment by Southern Water to prioritise investment in this highly protected landscape.”

River Action founder and chair Charles Watson added: “As the summer holidays approach and tens of thousands of visitors prepare to enjoy the wonders of the New Forest, it just seems inconceivable that Europe’s favourite National Park is being treated like an open sewer by Southern Water.

Professor Russell Wynn, director of Wild New Forest
Professor Russell Wynn, director of Wild New Forest

"We urge Southern Water to disclose immediately what measures it plans to take to end this abuse of the country’s favourite national park.”

A spokesperson for the charity claimed the most frequent sewage discharges over the last three years period in the national park have occurred at Brockenhurst wastewater treatment works on the Lymington River and Lyndhurst wastewater treatment works on the Beaulieu River, accounting for well over 50% of total discharges.

They said: "Campaigners have concerns about the discharges into the Beaulieu River at Lyndhurst – with 551 hours of discharge in 2021 alone – given the discharge pipe is located close to the actual source of the river."

In response, a Southern Water spokesperson said Lawrence Gosden, Southern Water's chief executive officer, would be "delighted" to meet with River Action.

They added: "We are one of the key stewards of river water quality and are investing record amounts to protect and enhance the environment.

"In particular our Storm Overflow Task Force is leading the industry in our pioneering approach to reducing releases during heavy rain.

"Nature based solutions and working with partners including NGOs, land owners, councils and businesses is the key to reducing the amount of water getting into our system and slowing the flow so our systems can cope.”



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