Surfers Against Sewage protest on Gurnard beach

By Mal Butler May 24, 2024

A protest against sewage in our coastal and sea waters took place on Gurnard beach, the second-worst beach for discharges in the Southern region, on Saturday.

Around 40 people attended the ‘Paddle Out’ event, with thousands of other protesters taking to coasts and rivers across the country to protest against the state of the nation’s waterways.

The protests were co-ordinated by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), with the Island’s Chani Sasio saying: “I was really pleased to see so many people turn out to support us, especially as there were a lot of other events on the Island over the weekend.

“It shows how much people care about our seas. People were there to have a paddle out, and there were quite a few dinghies there supporting us in the water as well. It gave a real community feeling to the event.”

Giles Bristow, chief executive of SAS, added: “Like those paddling-out at Gurnard, thousands are protesting on the water to let politicians, regulators and water companies know that the public aren’t going to let them wriggle out of demands for clean seas and rivers.

“We’re calling for plans that are ambitious enough to end sewage pollution in high-priority nature sites, and the waters we surf, swim and paddle in, by 2030, putting people and nature before profit. We won’t tolerate this broken system any longer.”

Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight Council voted to stop all sewage discharges into the sea and watercourses by 2030 at its meeting last week.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Sarah Redrup of Wootton Bridge, received support across the chamber. Cllr Redrup highlighted that sewage had been released into Island waters for more than 38,648 hours during 2023, which she called “completely unacceptable”.

She also pointed out that Boxing Day swimmers, who raise money for charities every year by braving the cold waters, went into the sea unknowingly where there had been a sewage spill the night before.

The motion called on the Isle of Wight Council to take “positive and proactive leadership” on the issue of sewage spills by bringing together stakeholders and supporting community groups to conduct water testing in their local area.