FOLLOWING this morning's heavy rain, alerts for sewage pollution have been issued across Devon's coastline, with both the Environment Agency and the charity Surfers Against Sewage advising that bathers stay out of the water.

Holcombe Beach near Teignmouth has had a sewage alert this morning, while further sewage is forecast at Teignmouth Town Beach. The Environment Agency states that in both cases: 'Bathing is not advised today.'

The pollution was a result of recent heavy rain, overwhelming the sewerage system and triggering South West Water to discharge raw sewage into the sea to prevent sewage from backing up in the pipes and spilling back into the homes and businesses that created it.

While the use of these sewage overflows is common and usually permitted by the Environment Agency, there has been widespread criticism around the frequency and necessity of their use. South West Water was the second worst for their use of sewage overflows in 2022, pumping raw sewage into the South West’s waterways for over 290,000 hours.

Last month, Martin Wrigley, councillor for Dawlish North East and campaigner against the use of sewage overflows, said: ‘I am disgusted. We can see this as a symptom of the mess that water companies are in. It rains, they should be expecting that. Sure it was heavy rain but this happens every year.’

South West Water’s poor pollution record triggered several protests earlier this year.

Martin added: ‘What we’re seeing is the failure of water companies, the failure of the privatisation model and the failure of many other things.

'It’s not good enough and we have to continue to push for better. I can see a whole change in the way that the water industry is run, and the sooner it comes the better.'

A SWW spokesperson responded; ‘In April we announced WaterFit, our plan to protect rivers and seas together. WaterFit will dramatically reduce our use of storm overflows, maintain our region’s excellent bathing water quality standards all year round and reduce and then remove our impact on river water quality by 2030.

‘Working with partners and customers WaterFit will begin to deliver the change we all want to see.'