Westward Ho! beach to benefit from £200k plan
THE bathing water at Westward Ho! beach could become noticeably cleaner thanks to South West Water, which is planning to spend nearly £200,000 on the village's sewage system.
Westward Ho! is North Devon's only blue flag beach this year.
Both Croyde and Woolacombe opted out knowing their poor water quality results last year, due to heavy rain, would see them fail the requirements.
But despite this surfer Martin Dorey, from Horns Cross, complained in June last year that he had received text messages, through the BeachLive alert system, warning him the combined sewage overflow had discharged six times in a month.
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At the time Martin, who is a member of campaign group Surfers Against Sewage, said: "It is ridiculous the outfall at Abbotsham, which was built especially to cope with the extra development in the area, can't cope so sewage goes into the sea during the summer.
"It makes a mockery of the beach's blue flag.
"South West Water needs to do more, especially when it makes millions of pounds. It should plough that back into improving the system."
Now South West Water has confirmed it is investing £180,000 to improve the sewer network in Westward Ho! over the coming weeks.
The scheme will remove surface and highways water from the sewerage network, relieving pressure on the pumping station at Golf Links Road. South West Water is hoping this will be the first phase of bigger project to improve the system, but this is yet to be confirmed subject to further funding being granted.
At a Northam Town Council meeting councillors were told what disruption to expect from the works by Barry Birch from Balfour Beatty.
There will be traffic controls in Nelson Road and Golf Links Road from January 14 for approximately eight weeks.
Councillor Andrew Eastman said: "We have had several discussions with residents for years and years and it is has been a known problem that we need to separate the surface water from the sewage."
Councillor Roger Johnson added: "It is our Blue Flag beach we are concerned about.
"People pay here twice as much for their water than the rest of the country.
"South West Water have got out money and they should get on with it."
A spokesman from South West Water said that as this is the initial phase of the project it is not expected to make a big difference to the amount of the overspills which occur on the beach but that it is the start of a proposed bigger project.
On hearing the news Chris Smith, a spokesman for the Environment Agency, said: "Anything which improves and enhances the water and encourages tourism is most welcome."
Mr Dorey added: "This is great news and I applaud South West Water for what they are doing. Even if it helps a bit that is great."