NEW analysis of the latest Environment Agency data by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that water companies in England have dumped sewage onto England’s premier Blue Flag beaches 1,504 times last year, lasting an astonishing 8,497 hours last year.  

Blue Flag status is an international mark of recognition that a beach is deemed safe and environmentally friendly. However, these new findings raise fears of water pollution for swimmers and wildlife.  

The worst incident was on a mainland English Blue Flag beach was on Blackpool Sands beach here in Devon, where sewage was discharged for a staggering 1,014 hours last year across 63 separate sewage dumps onto the beach.  

Four of the five most affected beaches are in Devon, with South West Water being one of the worst performing water companies in the whole country – being awarded a one-star rating by the Environment Agency for water pollution. 

Furthermore, analysis of Company House records finds water bosses paid themselves a staggering £24.8million, including £14.7 million in bonuses, benefits and incentives in 2021/2022. 

Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton & Honiton Richard Foord said: 

'Devon’s beaches are being damaged by profiteering water companies, that are more focused on lining their shareholders' pockets that protecting our rivers and beaches. 

'South West Water is one of the worst performing water firms in the whole country and yet we’re seeing our bills continue to rise. Several people have contacted me to tell me how ripped off they feel. 

'These negligent companies are being let off the hook by this Conservative Government, which had to be shamed into taking even the most limited action. It was only my amendment which stopped taxpayer-funded loans being given to these polluting firms, in the absence of plans to clear up the mess.  

'Conservative MPs across the West Country have also voted to allow 15 more years of sewage dumping in our rivers and onto our beaches, by setting a far-off deadline of 2038 for water companies to stop these spills. 

'Therese Coffey is coming up to the six month point in her job as Environment Secretary. In most workplaces, someone who was not managing during their probationary period would be let go. Her failure to take meaningful action on these water companies shows she simply doesn’t care about our country’s rivers and seas. 

'What is the point of an Environment Secretary who doesn’t care about the environment? She should be put out her professional misery and be replaced by someone who actually understands just how damaging these sewage spills are to communities like ours. 

'Conservative MPs have shown time and again that they couldn’t care less about our rivers and coastlines. This Government is as guilty as the water companies in allowing this national nature scandal and Liberal Democrats will continue to hold them to account.'