Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Apology over sewage and dead rats on Hayling beach

Fort Cumberland
Image caption The problems were caused by blocked storm-water screens at Fort Cumberland

Sewage and dead rats have washed up on a beach in Hampshire, prompting an apology from Southern Water.

The waste was discharged from an outfall pipe at Eastney in Portsmouth, after heavy rain and ground water inundated the sewage system.

Clean-up teams have now removed most of the sewage waste from Hayling Island.

Southern Water said £30m was being spent on fixing the problem, but work on the systems will not be finished until the end of the year.

It said waste was released after storm-water screens at Fort Cumberland, which receives wastewater from Eastney Pumping Station, were blocked and failed during the recent severe weather.

Blue Flag beach

Louise MacCallum, environment officer at Langstone Harbour Board, said: "We've seen a variety of things - cotton bud sticks, female sanitary products and also hypodermic syringes.

"Lots of very unsightly waste."

Councillor Andy Lenaghan, of Havant Borough Council, said: "We've got a Blue Flag beach with lots of windsurfers and of course they have a text system for notifying all the other windsurfers.

Image caption Cotton bud sticks and even dead rats have been washed up on Hayling Island

"The last thing we want is for them to stay away."

Geoff Loader, director of Southern Water, said: "We have screens at Fort Cumberland that remove this debris from the wastewater - but they were initially damaged in a storm a couple of years ago.

"A complete rebuilding process at that plant was overtaken by the weather before it could be completed."

In a statement, the company added: "We regret and apologise for the current situation and are committed to making major improvements to the site.

"We are currently working on a £10m scheme to change the way storm-water enters the site, which will ease the pressure on the screens, making them more robust.

"We are also part-way through a £20m scheme to radically change the Victorian sewer system in Portsmouth.

"The scheme will divert rainwater from Portsmouth's sewers to ease the pressure on the system during storms."

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