On 28th January, local health professionals and residents in Cornwall will install satirical blue plaques across Cornwall to highlight the shocking human health impact of dumping raw sewage into our seas.
Members of Extinction Rebellion will unveil the blue plaques at several locations in Cornwall including St Agnes, Perranporth, Truro and the St. Austell area in spoof ceremonies as part of a national day of action across the UK.
In St. Agnes, they will be joined by Surfers Against Sewage, the environmental charity that has been campaigning for the ocean for many years, in a united effort to raise awareness of water pollution and bring about legislative change.
The plaques highlight the government’s continued failure to tighten environmental regulations and stop profit-grabbing by water companies. Some plaques name their local MPs that voted to block law an amendment to the Environment Bill, which would have forced water companies in the UK to properly clean up sewage before discharge.
All the MP’s that voted to block the bill are named here
“The UK Government voted to block a law requiring water companies to dump less raw sewage in our waterways and seas, 20 Oct ‘21”.
Cornwall protestors will be led by health professionals, highlighting the health and welfare implications of this.
Dr Kawita Schur, local GP and Surf Lifesaving Club member says:
“Raw sewage dumping is a disgrace from a human and planetary health perspective; the government and industries responsible need to be held accountable for their actions. I am a mother and a GP; I strive to keep my family and community healthy, let’s unite to bring about change!”
Dr Bill Stableforth, gastroenterologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, Ocean Rower and volunteer lifeguard, says:
“It’s an outrage that water companies have more legal protection than the precious and beautiful coast on which so many of us rely for our physical and mental health, and our livelihoods. We cannot accept that South West Water pays 20% of our bills as shareholder dividends whilst knowingly contaminating our waterways and beaches.
Water users around the UK are being infected by antibiotic resistant bacterial strains of E.Coli as a result [1, 2, 3]. This can result in potentially very serious illness. Water companies and government are prioritising profit over the health of our families and the natural places on which we all rely. We simply cannot continue like this.”
The government’s failure to properly tackle the issue of sewage pollution has been hugely controversial. Last summer over a hundred beaches were closed to the public after a series of sewage discharges by water companies left the sand and sea contaminated with human sewage.
In December, the Environment Agency announced it was pushing back targets to clean up England’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters from 2027 to 2063, prompting outcry.
Dr Kawita Schur says:
“It’s disgusting to think what’s being pumped into the sea. The government and water companies aren’t going to clean up unless ordinary people put pressure on them. Surfer’s Against Sewage have been working tirelessly on this for many years, it is time to stand up with them and speak out.”
For Extinction Rebellion, the day is just the first part of a bigger campaign to protect nature and our waterways. You can join in by visiting Extinction Rebellion Cornwall or signing up to https://actionnetwork.org/forms/dirty-water