Bob Seely, IW MP:

Thank you for publishing the letter (CP 17-03-23) rightly arguing for clean rivers and beaches, important for swimmers, for wildlife and for our visitor economy - and indeed for all Islanders. 

As a swimmer - and an occasional sea swimmer - I hate the idea of a polluted sea.

Water firms need to undergo a sea change in their behaviour - if you forgive the pun.

Here are the facts on how we are cleaning up our rivers and beaches.

First, the Conservative government brought in the ground-breaking Environment Act last year, which is enforcing higher standards for water firms and nature protection.

There’s also a storm overflow policy specifically to deal with sewage overflow.

Second, as your MP, I persuaded Southern Water to prioritise the Isle of Wight as an example of national best practice.

Their ‘pathfinder’ project is a multi-million-pound investment programme designed to significantly reduce sewage and storm overflows and improve the rivers, beaches and seas in and around the Island.

The investment is happening in big and small schemes - and there is more on the way. It is not going to happen overnight. But, let me reassure people, it is happening.

There are projects across the Island; £13.5 million to improve Sandown Water Works, £2.5 million for work at Knighton, £5 million in Carisbrooke, over £7 million in Cowes, Newport and Brading, over £1 million for Ventnor supply works and £500k for works in Totland and more for other smaller sites.

Community schemes will see work to reduce driveway and road rainwater run-off.

There is a campaign to distribute slow-release water butts to households to help alleviate pressure on their water systems.           

A water-butt trial last year in Havenstreet has proved very successful. Before the trial, Havenstreet pumping station spilled 20-30 times a year. Since the trial, Havenstreet spills have significantly reduced – a very promising start.

The water-butt scheme has now moved to Gurnard. Further work is expected in Fishbourne and Wootton, Yarmouth and Freshwater, as well as East Cowes over the next 12-months.  

Third, I am now talking with Southern Water every fortnight to monitor progress.

It is no longer acceptable to see sewage in the sea.

It is this government that is forcing change on the Island. We have the most ambitious programme in the UK to deliver cleaner rivers and beaches, more than any government in our history has done.

I look forward to working with community groups, councillors and Southern Water to make sure we maintain and improve our Island’s environment – all part of getting a better deal for the Island.