RAW sewage has been bubbling up from manholes after heavy rain.

Environment campaigners fear outdated sewage systems could mean parts of Sussex are overwhelmed with dirty floodwater.

During this week’s heavy rain, raw sewage has been seen escaping through manholes in Hailsham.

Meanwhile, in Mid Sussex, dirty water was seen “fizzing up” into the road in Sayers Common.

Countryside charity CPRE Sussex is concerned that the combination of climate change and unprecedented house building could overwhelm outdated sewage systems across Sussex.

CPRE Sussex’s Wealden representative Nick Daines is calling for a halt on all development in Hailsham until the problem has been fixed. He said: “Clearly the recent rain has shown up weaknesses.

“When there is prolonged heavy rain the combined sewer can become surcharged and will push up manhole covers to permit foul sewage escape.”

Residents in Mid Sussex reported a similar situation in Sayers Common in a road next to the site where Linden Homes wants to build 129 new houses.

Residents are concerned that plans to build 3,000 homes in the town will see sewers unable to cope.

Hailsham resident Carrieann Whittington said: “It’s a disgrace.

“Hailsham South sewer system was at capacity between six and ten years ago and has never been updated.”

In a letter to Wealden Council last week Southern Water reassured the authority.

It said: “The result of our assessment indicated that proposed foul flow can be accommodated in the system.”

The village of Sayers Common relies on a pumping station which local people say is not designed to cope with the increased volumes caused by extreme rainfall combined with domestic waste and the run-off from roads and houses.

Resident Judith Marsh said: “When there is a problem, our toilets are affected.

“This is exactly what happened on Friday.

“I called out Southern Water who tested the water and said that although fortunately there is no ammonia in the watercourse this time, there is diesel.

“The village stinks and the oil can be seen floating in the water course.”

CPRE Sussex chairman Dan Osborn said: “With climate change, situations like this can be expected to be features of the future unless infrastructure improvements precede housing development.

“We need to prepare now for the more frequent episodes of intense rainfall that come with a changing climate.”