London: There are pollution warnings in place at more than 40 beaches and swimming spots in England and Wales after heavy rain overwhelmed the sewage system following months of little or no rain.
The south west and south coast of England were the worst affected, according to data gathered by environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
Swimmers are advised against bathing at seven beaches in Cornwall as a result of storm sewage overflows, with four in Devon and five in Dorset also polluted by the recent downpours, dpa news agency reported citing the SAS as saying on Wednesday.
Nine beaches in Sussex, three on the Isle of Wight and three in Essex were also hit by storm sewage.
There were also warnings in place at spots in Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and South Wales, as well as two inland wild swimming spots near Bristol and near Minehead in Somerset.
There has been growing public outrage in recent years at the volume of raw or partially-treated sewage pumped into the UK’s rivers and coastal waters.
A spokeswoman for SAS said there were a further nine pollution warnings in place not linked to heavy rain, and those visiting the coast are advised to always check its interactive map on its website before they swim.
In a report published in July, the Environment Agency said water company bosses should face jail for the worst pollution incidents, describing the sector’s performance in 2021 as the “worst we have seen for years”.
An Environment Agency spokesman said on Wednesday: “The current risk of surface water flooding reinforces the need for robust action from water companies to reduce discharges from storm overflows. We are monitoring the current situation and supporting local authorities where needed.”