A few weeks ago Owl posted: water profits surge as leaks wash away public trust. Since then, the Pennon Group (owner of South West Water) has published its latest half-year results showing profits are up, as was expected.
On “Improving river and coastal water quality” the bullish Pennon half-year report claims “our best ever performance” on bathing water (“100% water quality standards achieved at our bathing beaches”); and that they are “focused on reducing our impact on river quality by one third by 2025”.
Owl reads all this with “interest” considering Owl recently reported, according to the 2021 Water Quality report by Surfers Against Sewage, that: South West Water also produced a “notably poor performance for the third consecutive year”, with 406 discharges in the bathing water season on to popular beaches. Owl also reported a correspondent quoting Luke Pollard MP, shadow environment secretary, saying in October “Not one English river is in a healthy condition and there has been zero improvement since 2016.”
Owl has also previously drawn attention to the fact that, though South West Water may not have found the resources to make any headway in reducing sewage pollution, it has found the time and effort to write a “green jobs” report on behalf of the Great South West.
The report, Levelling Up the Great South West: A G7 Legacy, analyses every parliamentary constituency in Devon and Cornwall and says that they deserve as much political attention as those in the electoral battleground of the so-called “Red Wall” in the North of England and Midlands.
Owl has also questioned whether South West Water can be considered to have any authority or credibility to take the lead on “green” issues. Owl wonders who commissioned such a study?
Is South West Water emulating Sir Geoffrey Cox MP in the priorities devoted to “second Jobs” compared to the day job? In the case of South West Water surely sorting out Clyst St Mary’s “turds in streets” has priority?
Owl wants everyone to remember, as well, the beavers who have to swim around in all this.
This special scrutiny meeting should be worth looking out for!
Too many sewage incidents in East Devon
Joe Ives, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
“Turds in the street” should be a thing of the past in East Devon – or at least that’s the hope for 2022.
East Devon councillors say they’ve had enough of surplus sewage spewing into road, so they’ve summonsed South West Water to explain what’s going wrong at a special meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee.
The water company has been under the spotlight after it was revealed that the company made 42,000 raw sewage discharges into Devon’s rivers and coastal areas last year.
It has been particularly bad for residents of Clyst St Mary. The village has flooded with sewage at least 11 times this year, with South West Water offering portable loos to the worst affected households, some of which were left without working toilets for up to 60 hours at a time.
The situation attracted criticism from local councillors and East Devon’s Conservative MP Simon Jupp.
Addressing the scrutiny committee, Councillor Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dems, Democratic Alliance Group, Broadclyst) said: “We actually have turds in the streets in some places when it rains, and that’s really not on.
“This is 2021 we cannot be running a local area that has this sort of thing happening. We can’t have poo in the streets, we can’t have poo in the rivers and we can’t have poo in the sea. We need to find out why it’s happening and get it sorted out.”
Councillor Jess Bailey (Independent, West Hill and Aylesbeare), who suggested the meeting with South West Water and got unanimous agreement from committee members, said the issue was a “matter of massive public concern.”
“Having clean water in our rivers and on our coast is absolutely fundamental to East Devon, both for wildlife and tourism.”
Speaking recently about concerns over flooding in East Devon, South West Water’s engineering director Matt Crabtree said: “We are committed to delivering a permanent solution which will involve detailed works and upgrades to our network.”