Devon area is branded ‘Top of the Poops’

The Torridge and West Devon constituency of MP Geoffrey Cox has been named Top of the Poops by campaigners fighting to stop raw sewage being discharged into Britain’s waterways.

Guy Henderson www.devonlive.com 

With sewage discharges hot news at the moment thanks to the closure of some of Devon’s top holiday beaches after discharges, the Top of the Poops website has seen a surge in traffic.

The site uses data provided by the Environment Agency and breaks them down by Parliamentary constituency.

Paignton Sands, Preston Sands and Goodrington in Torbay had pollution warnings on Sunday, while last week there were bathing bans at Teignmouth Holcombe and Teignmouth Town beaches. Heavy rain can trigger legally-allowed storm overflows to prevent pipes which carry a mixture of rainwater and sewage from backing up.

The website uses 2021 pollution figures to map at least 470,000 sewage “spills” in England and Wales, incidents in which sewage has been intentionally released into the water.

The figures show that Torridge and West Devon had the most hours of sewage being released into the water in the whole of England, with South West Water carrying out 5,233 sewage “dumps” across nearly 59,000 hours. The Central Devon constituency came next, with 4,320 dumps over 43,506 hours.

Totnes had 4,001 dumps over 27,465 hours and North Devon 2,091 over 21,010 hours. The majority of sewage overflows took place into freshwater rivers. Just one in 27 dumps took place into the sea.

Of those that did happen on beaches, 111 sewage incidents were recorded at Ilfracombe’s Wildersmouth Beach, with 157 at Exmouth, 108 at Combe Martin and 93 at Torquay’s Meadfoot Beach.

The shellfishery on the River Teign in South Devon was the worst affected, with 1,926 sewage incidents, representing 13,640 hours of sewage. The Exe Estuary shellfishery had 1,748 sewage incidents in 2021.

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