Environmental campaigners stage 'poo protest' in Fleetwood over untreated sewage in sea concerns
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A large group of protesters, some of them holding ‘poo’ placards and wearing ‘poo’ costumes, gathered on the beach near the Marine Hall in Fleetwood today (October 14) to make their point.
The gathering was coordinated by a Fleetwood-based group called the Big Swim Team as part of the wider Surfers Against Sewage campaign.
Also in attendance were Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP, Paul Maynard, local Labour politicians and members of the Healthier Fleetwood group.
The Big Swim Team is headed by ex-serviceman and keen sportsman Adam Diver, of Fleetwood who, in May this year, successfully became the first person to swim from the British mainland to the Isle of Man.
During training for that challenge, he says he became aware of untreated sewage in the sea and says he subsequently discovered the alarming extent of the problem and how regularly it was occurring.
He said: “We have been using an app called Safer Seas which sends out alerts of when there is an untreated sewage spill in our seas.
"The worrying thing is that it is happening on a regular basis, not just off Fleetwood but across the whole Fylde coast – Lytham, St Annes, Blackpool, Bipsham and Cleveleys.
"Our aim is to try and work with the water authority in our area, United Utilities, so that they can bring about the necessary measures to stop this happening.
“It is totally unacceptable and needs to stop as soon as possible.”
Mr Diver said concerns over the untreated sewage was having a detrimental impact on Fleetwood.
He said: “Dog walkers are becoming more reluctant to go on the beach, many swimmers don’t want to go in any more and it is affecting footfall coming into Fleetwood, which impacts on local businesses.”
There was a particularly high profile spillage in June which culminated in swimmers being advised by the Environment Agency not to swim in the sea across the whole of the Fylde coast.
United Utilities (UU) said in a statement at the time: “United Utilities is carrying out urgent repair work to a burst pipe which carries water after it has been treated and cleaned from Fleetwood wastewater treatment works to the sea.
"The treatment works is currently running at a reduced rate while engineers plan and carry out the repair work to the pipe which lies nine metres underground.
"The reduced capacity at the treatment works and in our network as a result of this burst meant there was less storage available than normal to deal with the heavy rainfall last night. This resulted in storm overflows operating. We are working closely with the Environment Agency and local councils as we respond to this.”