Government issues pollution warning at St Annes north beach after sewage spills into the sea

The government has issued a stern warning to beachgoers to stay away from the waves at St Annes after heavy rainfalls yesterday led to sewage being pumped into the sea.

By Wes Holmes
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 2:27 pm

The sewage spill is the third reported discharge this month, with further spills being reported on May 4 and May 6 – and comes just a few days after the beach was branded ‘the dirtiest in the UK’.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs released a ‘pollution risk warning’ for St Annes North at 8.30am today (May 17), with beachgoers being advised not to bathe in the water.

A United Utilities spokesman said: “The sewer network is built in such a way that when there is heavy rain, there is a risk of flooding at our waste water treatment works. If there’s a risk of those being overwhelmed, we have permission to discharge storm water to relieve that in order to avoid flooding.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Pollution in the sea at St Anne's

"The dates where this has been pointed out is where we have had to do that due to water coming into the network.”

This was to help prevent the flooding of streets, homes and businesses, they said.

Last week, St Annes beach was ranked worst in the UK for sea swimming by commercial waste collection company Business Waste, based on government water quality data for 425 beaches across England, Scotland and Wales.

The rankings were based on the total count of E. Coli detected in the seawater during routine government testing over the past two years.

Pollution in the sea at St Anne's

This is despite St Annes beach being among the areas to receive the Seaside Award from environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy last week.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I am very concerned to read reports of St Annes beach being named the 'dirtiest' in the UK. It is certainly not the kind of publicity the town and Fylde needs ahead of a busy summer season.

“I will be asking United Utilities and The Environment Agency about this news and the steps they are taking to put things right.”

The bathing water profile for St Annes is currently classified as ‘good’ by DEFRA – a status it has held since 2017.

St Annes North, meanwhile, is ‘sufficient’.

In April, the beach was conversely ranked as one of the best in the UK by holiday company HomeToGo, based on water cleanliness, value for money and visitor ratings.

Coun Tommy Threlfall, chairman of Fylde Council's Environment, Health and Housing committee, said: “We have various reports monthly, and looking at the most recent ones, they are good. There are some groups which are cherry-picking some of these statistics and data. But we are really focused on determining what is happening in the correct way. If things are questionable, I will be the first to question them.”

Regarding the reports of recent pollution, he added: “It is on our radar, and in my position I regularly speak with United Utilities and the Environment Agency as to the reasoning. We’re shortly due to go into talks.

“Today (May 17) I am talking with the coastguard at the town hall in St Annes to give me a presentation on beach safety. I have being active in recent years, having taken over this chairmanship, that beach safety is very much in our focus. We want to assure that beach sfatey is at its utmost, and cleanliness and water quality goes along with that.”

St Annes wins Seaside Award for summer 2022

St Annes beach was named among the areas to receive the Seaside Award for summer 2022 from environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy last week.

Coun Threlfall said: “It’s our great privilege to receive the Seaside Award this year, and it's thanks to the dedication of the volunteers and staff who keep our beachfront clean and beautiful that we’ll be proud to fly the flag.

"We ask that visitors leave nothing but their footprints, so that everyone can continue to enjoy the sands.”

Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “The success of St Annes in reaching the high standards demanded is testament to all those who have worked so hard to protect and improve our blue spaces – from beach managers and volunteers to residents and businesses.

"The huge commitment needed to maintain marvellous beaches worthy of these awards cannot be underestimated.”