SOUTH West Water discharged untreated sewage and waste water 420 times over 2,100 hours last year in the Teign Estuary alone, according to figures revealed to councillors.

Cllr Andrew MacGregor described the amount as ‘disturbing’ as the water company’s conduct in allowing such spills into the waters around the district came under the spotlight at Teignbridge Council. 

Members of the full council heard two motions raising worries about the state of the sewage infrastructure and the amount of discharge into rivers and the sea. 

A call led by Teignmouth councillor David Cox for a vote of no confidence in SWW’s existing systems and processes for managing and investing in Teignbridge’s sewage infrastructure is to be considered by the ruling executive committee. 

Speaking at full council, Cllr Cox said he was pleased to hear SWW is being prosecuted by the Environment Agency on 30 charges relating to illegal water discharges in Cornwall and Plymouth. 

He said: ‘It does seem the Environment Agency is getting its act together.

‘This motion of no confidence has been said to be harsh but I think we as a council can help SWW and work with them to stop pouring sewage into our rivers and sea.

‘This is a big issue and we need to condemn SWW and the Government for failing to regulate and keep on top of this.’

The second motion by Cllr MacGregor, which will also go to the executive committee, called for the council leader and managing director to write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Steve Barclay MP, and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Michael Gove MP expressing concern that these discharges represent a risk to the environment, food production, tourism and housing development and asking for their intervention to insist on immediate investment to address this. 

On the figures, Cllr MacGregor said: ‘These paint a very disturbing picture for Teignbridge and its residents, visitors and businesses.’

The strongly worded notices came just days after SWW appeared in court on charges relating to illegal water discharge activities and breaches of environmental permits. 

The charges relate to waste water treatment works, sewage pumping stations and sewer network at locations across Cornwall and Plymouth.

Cllr Cox said there was widespread concern among Teignbridge residents regarding the state of the infrastructure.

His motion stated: ‘Teignbridge District Council finds the significant increase of 55per cent of sewage spills by South West Water last year a totally unacceptable behaviour requiring curtailment.’

The executive will now decide whether Teignbridge Council should declare it has ‘no confidence in South West Water’s existing systems and processes for managing and investing in Teignbridge’s sewage infrastructure’.

Cllr Cox said the authority should ask SWW to commit to involving the district council regarding ongoing and upcoming works on South West Water infrastructure, and jointly convene a regular liaison group bringing together senior staff from SWW and Teignbridge Council to ‘proactively monitor and respond to ongoing developments and issues’. 

Cllr Cox also said underfunding and insufficient staffing at the Environment Agency should be addressed.