Where is it unsafe to swim in the UK? Map shows areas with poor water quality due to sewage spills

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Visitors to more than 50 British beaches have been warned by environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to avoid entering the water due to risk posed by sewage.

According to the Labour Party’s analysis of Environment Agency (EA) data, water companies have pumped raw sewage into Britain’s seas and rivers for more than nine million hours since 2016.

MPs voted on the discharge of raw sewage into rivers and seas in October last year, during a proposal from the Lords to the Environment Bill, that would have placed legal duties on the companies to reduce discharges. But the proposal was defeated by 265 MPs’ votes to 202. You can see how MPs voted here.

Due to extreme amounts of sewage being pumped into the sea, SAS have created an interactive map showing pollution risk warnings across the UK.

Where is it unsafe to swim in the UK?

SAS’ interactive map shows pollution risk warnings in place along the south coast, including Leysdown, Folkestone, Badley Salterton, Ladram Bay, Marazion, Swanpool and Millendreath.

Northwest regions of the UK also impacted are Dee River, Walney West shore, Walney Biggar Bank, Walney Sandy Gap, Morecambe North and South.

The northeast regions impacted are Saltburn, Marske Sands, Redcar Lifeboat Station, Redcar Coatham, Marsden, Amble Links, Warkworth and Spittal.

The polluted water carries potentially dangerous substances that can pose a threat for both humans and animals. Swimmers on these beaches are encouraged to check the map to stay informed about local water conditions.

The pollution levels for Scotland’s many beaches are currently available due to them being classed as out of season.

Why is so much sewage being pumped into the sea?

Southern Water blamed the “thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain” for pumping sewage into some of the worst affected regions.

“Storm releases were made to protect homes, schools and businesses from flooding,” a spokesperson for Southern Water said.

“The release is 95-97 per cent rainwater and so should not be described as raw sewage. We know customers do not like that the industry has to rely on these [discharges] to protect them, and we are pioneering a new approach.”