COUNCIL chiefs have demanded that Southern Water manage its disposal of sewage discharges better.

At a meeting of the Arun District Council Environment and Neighbourhood Services Committee, Arun District Councillors came together to demand action from Southern Water, following public concern over bathing water quality.

The meeting saw a discussion over the illegal sewage discharges into the sea elsewhere off the south coast, which led to Southern Water being fined £90 million in July.

The company pleaded guilty to 6,791 unpermitted sewage discharges which polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex between 2010 and 2015.

Concern was also raised regarding the number of consented sewage discharges into the sea over the summer months in the Arun district and the threat to its beaches and bathing water, which usually holds a good or very good rating.

A motion was proposed resolving to request the chief executive of Arun District Council and the Group Head of Planning to write to Southern Water to ask what plans and timescales they have in place to cease illegal discharges causing risk to the public and environmental health.

Also, they will ask Southern Water to state when they will separate rainwater drainage from sewerage networks and accommodate all proposed new houses within the main sewer connection.

Cllr David Edwards, chairman of the Environment and Neighbourhood Services Committee, said: "This is such an important issue and great to see complete support and unity in getting the best for our residents, for our economy and of course, for our environment.

"I don't want Southern Water to believe it is right to just do what they like, but to take a more responsible approach to the management of sewage in our district. Our residents, visitors and marine and wildlife deserve this."

The Argus: Shaun Gunner, leader of Arun ConservativesShaun Gunner, leader of Arun Conservatives

Cllr Shaun Gunner said: "We are all united in our frustration and anger at Southern Water for their persistent and pernicious discharges into coastal waters, including in our district.

"They do not have the consent of residents, businesses or local authorities to do this. As a council, we must send a very strong message to Southern Water that this is unacceptable.

"It is a threat to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the residents, visitors, and businesses of Arun. We do not want to have to warn people about the dangers of swimming in our seas due to the presence of raw sewage.

"I want to see Southern Water held accountable for this behaviour."

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