The issue of sewage discharge into Solent waters

Solent Protection are becoming increasingly exercised by the issue of pollution in Solent waters. A working party within the SPS Council are actively researching the scale and nature of the problem in the transitional and coastal waters of the Solent and have been lobbying Solent MPs to support the ‘Sewage (Inland Waters)‘ initiative first raised by Philip Dunne in his Private Members Bill.

While action is currently on hold due to the priorities rightly accorded to the Covid-19 effort, SPS will continue to lobby for action to be taken to clean up the inland waters which feed the Solent’s harbours and estuaries.

Click the image to access the Environment Agency ‘Catchment Data Downloader’

We are also lobbying to ensure that the wider Solent body of water be considered an ‘arm of the sea’ for the purposes of any new legislation. The Bill was originally drafted as an amendment to the Water Industries Act 1991 (WIA), which refers to section 221 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (WRA) for its definition of ‘Inland Waters’ and we have raised the concern that this is not sufficiently precise. We consider this point to be critical to the achievement of increased controls over the current discharges from long and short sea outfalls from combined sewers directly into the Solent water body.

Solent Protection defines the Solent to be an area stretching from a line between Hurst Castle and the Needles in the west to a line between Bembridge Ledge and Selsey Bill in the east. Since the water bodies covered by that definition are subject to tidal flows, in and out, we consider that the Solent area to be an ‘arm of the sea’ under the WIA/WRA.

The SPS Pollution group has also contributed to the recent ‘River Basins Challenges and Choices‘ consultation, initiated by the Environment Audit Committee. For a succinct description of the issues this consultation sets out to address, please refer to this third party post from