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Tackling Sewage in our Seas
and Waterways
A Timeline of our Campaigning on this Issue

April 2022

I have been vocal in my opposition to the unlawful release of raw sewage into bodies of water for many years, and in my support for groups such as Surfers Against Sewage.

Some constituents have contacted me who are under the misapprehension that I have voted to allow the continued dumping of sewage in our seas.

Be assured that this is not the case.

Southern Water have informed me of their creation of the Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force, which seeks to significantly reduce storm overflows by 2030.

I intend to continue to meet regularly with representatives from Southern Water and the Environmental Health Agency, along with fellow Sussex MPs, to discuss the continuing release of sewage into our waters. 

This issue remains a priority.

December 2022

A number of my constituents have contacted me to share their concerns about the Storm Overflow Discharge Plan outlined by the Government earlier this year.  

In this Plan, the Government sets new targets to improve our sewage systems:  

• By 2035, water companies will have: improved all overflows discharging into or near every designated bathing water; and improved 75% of overflows discharging to high priority sites.  

• By 2050, no storm overflows will be permitted to operate outside of unusually heavy rainfall or to cause any adverse ecological harm. 

I would have hoped that the targets outlined in the Plan could be implemented sooner.  

However, due to the complex nature of our Victorian sewage systems, we need to be realistic about the timeframes in which our systems can be updated to avoid storm overflow discharges.  

I continue to remain in regular contact with Southern Water and the Environment Agency about the safety of Worthing’s bathing waters.  

November 2022

I was pleased to meet with Katy Taylor, Chief Customer Officer at Southern Water's headquarters here in Worthing, to discuss resilience planning and to see their response room.

We share an interest in avoiding simple and common issues, encouraging proactive preventative work, creating an appropriate regulatory regime and encouraging better customer and community relations.

The widespread flooding five years ago remains a constant concern of many. Simple but vital precautions must be taken to ensure that critical infrastructure is protected.

It is encouraging to hear about the extra monitoring, control systems and management put into the pumping station network to prevent future issues on the scale of last summer.

The challenge with surface water removal and storm overflow continues.

We recognise the need for greater cooperation between our local councils and utility services.

Planning matters: many small changes have a compound effect on big issues. Paving over front lawns, leaving brooks overgrown and building across our green fields all worsen the issues of storm overflow and sewage flow into our bathing waters.

Let us do what is necessary, across all levels of government and industry, to better protect our bathing waters and aquatic environments.

It is also good to hear that Southern Water will be raising their social tariff to better support those most struggling with the cost of living crisis. Such information will be gladly included when speaking with vulnerable community members.

September 2022

We all understand how much the quality of our bathing water matters to our local communities. Our seaside economy relies significantly on our high-quality beaches and bathing waters. Residents must be able to enjoy our beaches peacefully and safely.

There needs to be a realistic way forward for water treatment companies to address this serious issue. Sewage entering our watercourses is wrong. We expect Southern Water to do better.

In recent weeks I have been in close communication with Southern Water and the Environment Agency with extreme concern for the quality of our bathing waters.

Most recently, I co-signed a letter to Southern Water and the Environment Agency alongside MPs from across Sussex, calling for an urgent meeting with both organisations. A copy of the letter is here.

I have also written directly to the leadership of Southern Water demanding a further explanation of the recent apparent build-up of toxic-smelling silt around the outlet pipe on Worthing Beach as well as requesting a comprehensive plan on how the company will tackle and eliminate the release of raw sewage through storm overflows.

I commit to raising this further with Parliamentary Colleagues when we return after recess.

We should expect water quality to be on a continued and sustained path to improvement as our systems become more efficient and effective. There must be progress.



August 2022

I was advised of an emergency evacuation of parts of Worthing Beach undertaken by the Beach Control Team due to a worrying large slick of black oil observed to be emanating from around a Southern Water outflow pipe.

My team and I were in immediate contact with Southern Water to request that pollution investigators attended the site urgently. Within hours, a team had been dispatched to the area adjacent to Heene Road to test the bathing water.

We have received assurances that the most likely reason for the change in the appearance of the seawater is a build-up of silt around the outfall.

The samples taken are reported to have contained no ammonia, meaning that there was no foul spillage. The investigator then took samples from the Lido up to Steyne Gardens which also showed no ammonia. An urgent request has been made for the dirtied shingle to be removed from around the outfall to remove the built-up material.

We celebrate the work of our Beach Control Teams, as well as our Coastguard and Lifeboat Service. They work hard to keep our beaches safe and accessible for all.

The quality of our water matters greatly not least to our seaside economy that relies greatly on our high-quality beaches and bathing waters.

Water quality is vastly improving. We should expect it to continue to improve as our systems become more efficient and effective. Let us continue to campaign and work hard in support of this.

June 2022


In June every year, we recognise  #WorldOceansDay.

I share in a belief that we must take urgent action now to safeguard the world’s oceans and protect the precious wildlife that inhabits them.

I took the opportunity to celebrate 32 years of good work by Surfers Against Sewage.

It is positive to know that 38 per cent of UK waters are in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

We can welcome plans to increase protections for England’s waters through a pilot to designate marine sites as Highly Protected Marine Areas.

There is more that needs to be done.

Our oceans and our seas are directly affected by what goes into our rivers. We recognise the urgent need to stop the routine spilling of sewage discharge into our waterways which causes so much damage to our rivers and our oceans.

January 2022

Bathing waters across the South East, especially here in Worthing and Arun, have achieved their highest ever ratings in Defra’s Bathing Water summer sampling regime.

Here in Worthing, the quality of bathing water has increased from 'Sufficient' in 2019 to 'Good' in 2021. Likewise along the Arun coast, the 5 bathing water ratings have increased from two 'excellent' and three 'good' in 2019 to three 'excellent' and two 'good' in 2021.

Many will know that I was vocal in calling for stricter regulations around sewage overflow discharge into our water sources. Sewage overflow is but one of many factors that affects the quality of our waters.

I will continue to work with the new management team at Southern Water, in close collaboration with our local councils, regulators and organisations, to continue to increase the standard of our bathing waters.

The recognition of our high-quality bathing waters only emboldens our work to further defend the quality of our waters.


November 2021

Thank you for contacting me about sewage pollution and the Environment Bill. Surfers Against Sewage could have informed you that I am a long-standing supporter of their cause and fully support better protection of our rivers and seas. Likewise, they could have better publicised their support which they gave vocally on BBC Radio 4 on the 10th November.

I was one of the very few Conservative MPs to vote in favour of the Lords Amendment and against the Government’s amendment to the Environment Bill. 

Along with neighbouring MP, Tim Loughton, we have long been vocal in our opposition to the unlawful release of raw sewage into bodies of water. 

As you may know, Southern Water is headquartered in Worthing and are well aware of my position.

I voted to support the Government's amended Environment bill enshrining the progressive obligation that I united in calling for as part of the Lord's Amendment.


The Lord's Amendment put a progressive obligation on the water treatment companies. This has long been Government policy but for some reason the Government decided to reject the amendment which sought to enshrine this policy in law.


I united with several other colleagues in doing what the Government ought to do anyway.


In response, the Government proposed that it would bring in its own amendment to achieve what the Lord's Amendment sought.


Last night's vote was not controversial. The House supported what the Minister put forward and the Lord's aim was achieved. Surfers Against Sewage have recognised that it is a major step in the right direction. We are all agreed that there is much more to do.


There needs to be a realistic way forward for water treatment companies to effectively deal between excess effluent water and rainwater. Sewage entering our watercourses is not right. Rainwater entering our watercourses is what has been going on for thousands of years.


I believe that Southern Water's previous management knowingly did things that were wrong. The present management does not. We ought to trust the new regime and hold them to their own expectations as well as ours.


Water quality is vastly improving. We should expect it to continue to improve as our systems become more efficient and effective. Just 60 years ago, untreated sewage entered our bathing water in a constant stream. That was pretty grim but we can be confident that the situation today is enormously different.


The more we know about achieving better results, the more we should implement them.


The quality of our water matters greatly not least to our seaside economy that relies greatly on our high-quality beaches and bathing waters.

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