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Case update 28 April 2023

We have a High Court date to challenge the Government’s failure to stop the sewage scandal

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We will be challenging the Government over its inadequate plan to tackle the huge amounts of raw sewage being poured into England’s rivers and seas at a hearing from 4 to 6 July 2023.


We’ve brought this case with the Marine Conservation Society, Richard Haward’s Oysters and surfer and activist, Hugo Tagholm, to compel this Government to rewrite its Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan and make it fit for purpose.

A deluge of sewage is being discharged by water companies into our rivers and shores through a network of 14,500 storm overflows dotted across the country. But the Government’s current plan gives water companies up until 2050 to improve their storm overflows and put a stop to industrial-scale sewage dumping.

We’re also concerned that the plan excludes a significant number of coastal waters from protection and fails to include around 600 storm overflows. This means that this shocking practice could still continue beyond 2050 under the Government’s current plan.

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We believe that giving the green light to this environmental vandalism for decades to come is not just unconscionable – it’s also unlawful on a number of grounds. 

There is clearly no more time to waste. The latest data from the Environment Agency has revealed that, last year alone, water companies in England discharged untreated sewage through storm overflows over 300,000 times for a total of 1.7 million hours.

We can’t allow our rivers, waterways and seas and the diverse ecosystems that they support to continue to be poisoned by pollution. And we can’t stand by as swimmers get sick, our coastal communities suffer and our natural environment is irreparably damaged for us and for future generations.

Our success in this case could help to turn the tide on the sewage scandal. We are also looking to revive an ancient English legal principle – the Public Trust Doctrine – to create new pathways for campaigners to hold the Government to account when it comes to environmental protection.

The hearing in July is our chance to protect and safeguard our rivers and coastal waters for us all and for the generations to come. But we need your support. If you are able to make a donation to our case, you can do so here.