SUSSEX MPs are calling for Southern Water to clean up its act after sewage was dumped in the sea.

Thirteen Conservatives have called for action to be taken after the water company was found to be dumping sewage into the water earlier this week.

A letter to Southern Water, co-signed by the MPs, said: “Once again, the rivers and the coastline across Sussex are being blighted by the discharge of sewage.

“This is unacceptable and we were pleased to support a Conservative amendment to the Environment Bill which after decades of inaction by governments of all political shades, for the first time ever now puts a statutory obligation on water companies to take steps to eradicate this practice.”

The letter comes after sewage was pumped into the sea following recent storms and flooding.

A Southern Water spokesman said: “The incident at our Galley Hill pumping station caused pollution on beaches near Bexhill and this is clearly unacceptable. We will be reporting our root cause analysis when this is complete and will continue to engage with stakeholders, regulators and customers.

“Our storm overflow task force is already engaged on industry-leading initiatives and political stakeholders will play a key role in driving the partnership working to implement the kind of interventions – whether nature based or engineering – needed to cut our reliance on storm releases.”

However, of the 13 MPs who signed the letter, eight previously voted against legislation which would have placed restrictions on companies to reduce the waste pumped into the sea.

Last year, an amendment to the Environment Bill was voted down by 265 votes to 202.

The MPs named on the letter who voted against the amendment are:

  • Maria Caulfield, Lewes 
  • Nus Ghani, Wealden 
  • Mims Davies, Mid Sussex 
  • Gillian Keegan, Chichester 
  • Nick Gibb, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton 
  • Sally-Ann Hart, Hastings and Rye 
  • Henry Smith, Crawley
  • Andrew Griffith, Arundel and South Downs.

In response, Maria Caulfield said: "The amendment proposed by the Lords, which we voted against, was well intentioned but called for an immediate end to sewage outflows which would have meant any overflow would have led to sewage leaking into peoples homes, gardens and roads without an alternative system in place." 

Sally-Ann Hart did not comment on her previous vote but said the dumping of sewage is “disgusting and totally unacceptable” and that “the resultant closure of beaches has a huge impact on our communities and businesses".

Since the vote in 2021, Ms Hart has campaigned with Surfers Against Sewage, calling for water companies to stop dumping sewage in some swimming areas.

Gillian Keegan said “claims that failing to support the previous Lords Amendment in October 2021 meant that MPs were voting in favour of sewage discharge were completely untrue” and that the government was completing reports into eradicating sewage discharge due in September.

Mims Davies added: "It has been absolutely vital that MPs across Sussex have called Southern Water to account regarding recent sewage discharge ahead of these changes and deliver the outcomes for our communities that we all want."

The other five MPs who signed the letter are Huw Merriman, Caroline Ansell, Tim Loughton, Jeremy Quin and Sir Peter Bottomley.

None of the others who voted against the amendment responded.