Clean river campaigners will be protesting around the country at water companies dumping sewage in the nation’s rivers. At least two are taking place in East Anglia, in Woodbridge, Suffolk and Manningtree, Essex on 23 April.
River Deben, Woodbridge
In Suffolk, protesters will be gathering in Woodbridge over sewage being dumped by Anglian Water in the River Deben. The river runs through the heart of the picturesque east Suffolk town, separating it from the Sutton Hoo, the ancient burial place of the Anglo-Saxon King Raedwald.
The river at Woodbridge widens into an estuary, which is protected nationally as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its wading bird, wildfowl and saltmarsh communities. It sits within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The river is popular all year round with wild swimmers. One of them, local councillor Caroline Page, has grown very concerned at the level of pollution in what was, not long ago, a pristine river.
“Pollution affects everyone and everything that lives in the Deben, or alongside it. The river has now become very polluted which affects everyone who walks, works, swims, sails, fishes or frolicks along its shores. The Environment Agency doesn’t test the water because it’s not a ‘designated swimming area’, despite the fact people have been swimming here for hundreds – probably thousands of years.
That’s why we are meeting at Whisstocks Place, outside the Longshed, where the Tide Mill Miller is officially going to declare the rights of the river Deben.”
At the Longshed, beside the meeting point, there will be a film by Eamonn O’Nolan, a green councillor and former mayor, as well as exhibitions of water findings and the environmental impact. In addition, there will be an exhibition called “Faces of the Deben” by local photographer, Ruth Leach.
There will be brief speeches including by Woodbridge’s Labour mayor, Sue Bale, and organiser Liberal Democrat councillor Caroline Page about her experience swimming in the river. They will be followed by a march through the town.
Caroline stresses the event is completely non-partisan and non-political “because sewage doesn’t care what you believe in, and it affects everyone. We know it has no place in our lovely Deben.” She adds, “If you can’t be there, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more.”
The protest starts at 12 noon at Whisstocks Place beside the Tide Mill, Woodbridge IP12 1FP. There’s ample parking at the nearby station.
River Stour, Manningtree
Another protest, at Manningtree, is part of a national effort organised by Surfers Against Sewage. They say they are bringing together the energy, anger and momentum from the last thirty years for a National Day of Action on Water Quality. There are 11 planned protests across the UK, each targeting one water company. They believe industry and the government need to put their words into action and deliver on their commitments to tackle sewage pollution.
The Manningtree event is being hosted by wild swimmers, ‘Mermaids Against Sewage‘. They are demanding an end to sewage discharge into UK bathing waters by 2030 to end sewage pollution and clean up our blue spaces. They are calling for stronger and bolder targets to end untreated sewage discharge.
Mermaids against sewage will be gathering at midday at the White Bridge, Manningtree, and have provided this map.