April 13, 2024

Norfolk Broads village named county sewer hotspot

Environment Agency figures showed that wastewater flowed from an Anglian Water sewage treatment plant in Belaugh into the River Bure for more than 2,000 hours in 2023 – the equivalent of 84 days.

Eastern Daily Press: Belaugh Across the RiverBelaugh across the river (Image: Newsquest)

The spills occurred due to storm overflows, which dump untreated sewage into rivers and the sea, usually during periods of heavy rain, to prevent sewage from building up and flooding.

The number of sewage spills in Belaugh – a picturesque village popular with sailors and paddleboarders – was almost three times higher than the previous year and was the highest in the county.

The second highest number was a site on the River Ant, between Horning and Ludham Bridge, which leaked for more than 1,700 hours.

The spill here, which is close to How Hill and another area popular with boaters and paddleboarders, has seen a total of 91 spills lasting the equivalent of 70 days.

Eastern Daily Press: Boats sailing past Horning on the River BureBoats sailing through Horning on the River Bure (Image: Newsquest)

The shocking figures emerged in a huge data release from the Environment Agency, which said there had been a total of 3.6 million hours of spills, compared to 1.75 million hours in 2022.

Overall, Anglian Water, responsible for much of the region’s sewage network, has seen the biggest increase in spills of any water company in England.

READ MORE: Where ‘chemical cocktails’ are poisoning Norfolk’s rivers

The data led to calls from deputies and councilors for a national environmental emergency to be declared to help resolve the problem.

READ MORE: Norfolk villagers ‘unable to use toilet for days on end’ due to sewage overflow

Eastern Daily Press: Councilor Fran WhymarkCounselor Fran Whymark (Image: DENISE BRADLEY)


Fran Whymark, Broadland councilor in Wroxham and member of the Broads Authority, called for the situation to be investigated and improved immediately.

“People should be able to enjoy our rivers without spills polluting them and posing a risk of serious harm,” said Whymark.

“This area of ​​the Broads is a popular destination for tourists and locals who want to go canoeing, paddleboarding or simply swimming.

“But doing so can leave them with tummy troubles or much worse.

“Annglian Water needs to look at how it can improve this so that people feel safe.

“It’s just not good enough.”

Norfolk county councilor Rob Colwell, who is also running as a Liberal Democrat to become MP for North West Norfolk, said: “It is a complete scandal that filthy sewage is being pumped into our stunning Norfolk Broads and into the rivers and waterways. water in our county.

“There should be a national emergency declared.”

READ MORE: Anglian Water criticized by Norfolk councilors over sewage

Eastern Daily Press: Environment Agency data reveals sewage spill hotspots in NorfolkEnvironment Agency data reveals sewage spill hotspots in Norfolk (Image: Newsquest)


Water companies are allowed to release sewage through storm overflows when the system becomes overwhelmed during heavy rain in order to help prevent flooding.

However, the issue became a growing scandal across the country and led to people demanding an end to the practice.

Defra figures show that wastewater is the source of 36% of the pollution affecting rivers and lakes, while 40% comes from the runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, slurry and agricultural soil.

Anglian Water said it is “working hard” to reduce the number of spills and is investing £50 million in a spill taskforce to tackle the problem, while £113 million has been invested to tackle spills in Norfolk alone, such as in Horning , Fakenham and Norwich.

Eastern Daily Press: A view of the River Ant looking towards How Hill, near the Horning sewage overflow siteA view of the River Ant looking towards How Hill, near the Horning sewage overflow site (Image: Newsquest)


Sewage flowed into Norfolk’s rivers and coastal waters for thousands of hours in 2023.

In addition to Belaugh and Horning, several other areas were seriously affected.

READ MORE: Norfolk Broads businesses left struggling as boats can’t fit under bridge

Eastern Daily Press: Paddle boarding is a popular sport on the Norfolk Broads, especially around Belaugh and Horning Paddle boarding is a popular sport on the Norfolk Broads, especially around Belaugh and Horning (Image: Newsquest)

Sewage flowed for more than 1,600 hours from a Grimston treatment plant into the River Gaywood – a rare chalk stream that rises near Derby Fen in west Norfolk before emptying into King’s Lynn.

Caister-on-Sea beach was one of the worst-affected coastal areas, with sewage flowing for 562 hours from an outfall near the beach.

Eastern Daily Press: A blustery day at Caister beachA blustery day at Caister beach (Image: Newsquest)

The Great Yarmouth/Gorleston area as a whole had 880 hours of sewage leaks.

In an overflow at Mundesley beach, wastewater was released for 250 hours.

In the Norwich area, sewage flowed into the River Wensum and River Yare for around 1,038 hours.

An Anglian Water spokeswoman said they were “disappointed to see the number of spills has increased”, but added that exceptionally wet weather at the end of 2023, compared to a much drier year previously, had contributed to the sharp rise. .

She added: “We are confident that the investments we have made to reduce spills have moved the needle in the right direction and spills would have been considerably higher without them.”

Eastern Daily Press: Water Minister Rebecca PowMinister for Water, Rebecca Pow (Image: PA)

Water Minister Rebecca Pow said the volume of sewage “dumped into our waters is unacceptable and we are taking action to ensure polluters are held to account”.

But critics, who include campaigner Feargal Sharkey, believe not enough is being done by Defra and the Environment Agency to crack down on water companies.

Labor Environment Secretary Steve Reed urged the government to immediately ban bonuses for water companies that pollute waterways and said his party would impose tougher measures on companies.

Eastern Daily Press: A view of the river at BelaughA view of the river at Belaugh (Image: Google)


Situated between Coltishall and Wroxham, picturesque Belaugh is one of the Norfolk Broads’ hidden gems.

Rare in Norfolk, it stands on a hill at one end of the Bure Valley and its name, made up of a combination of Norse and Anglo-Saxon words, means a “dwelling by the water”.

Apart from its attractive palace, a church and a small number of houses, there is little else.

But this has helped to keep it pristine, although the Environment Agency’s figures have cast an unfortunate spotlight on the community.

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