The Guardian reports that the Liberal Democrats condemn ‘environment scandal’ as party releases figures compiled from Environment Agency data

Untreated sewage was discharged into England’s coastal bathing waters for more than 160,000 hours last year, according to figures collated by the Liberal Democrats to mark the start of the summer sea-swimming season.

Data compiled by the party using Environment Agency figures on 2021 discharges shows that water companies released raw sewage 25,000 times into designated bathing waters off the English coast.

Figures collated by the campaign group Top of the Poops reveal that when also including the bathing waters in Wales, water companies released untreated sewage for 217,804 hours.

The bathing water designations – which were created by the EU – are supposed to highlight the country’s cleanest and safest waters for the public. The quality of the water is publicly identified on signs at the bathing beaches, ranging from excellent to poor.

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrats rural affairs spokesperson, said: “It is now or never to save families from swimming in sewage-infested waters this summer.

“Children should be free to enjoy Britain’s great coastlines and lakes, yet Conservative ministers are letting water companies get away with shameful sewage dumps. This is an environmental scandal.”

The Liberal Democrats have called for a sewage tax on water companies’ profits to be used to clean up coastlines, rivers and lakes.

Environment Agency data shows that in 2021 water companies released raw sewage into all coastal waters and rivers in England for more than 2.7m hours. The Lib Dems said that in the same year the firms made £2.8bn in operating profits and paid out £27m in bonuses to senior executives.

The full story in the Guardian can be read here.

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