Skip to main content

To: The Environment Agency

Stop Sewage Pollution at Whitburn

Stop Sewage Pollution at Whitburn

The public need a say on sewage polluting Whitburn

Please advertise and consult the public and relevant organisations on the application to vary the environmental permit 245/1207 which allows untreated wastewater to be discharged into the North Sea at Whitburn, South Tyneside.

Why is this important?

Huge and illegal volumes of sewage continue to blight Whitburn.

760,000 tonnes of untreated sewage were discharged into the sea at Whitburn in 2019.

Sewage pollution is a contributor to climate change.


Our sea life at Whitburn is being destroyed by Sewage; the rock pools at Whitburn beach once teemed with wildlife but are now barren. The dolphins that are sighted daily swimming near the sewage overflow are forced to make their way through a soup of sewage when discharges are taking place.

The seagrass meadows in the nearby River Tyne estuary have been devastated by sewage flowing from nearby Combined Sewer Overflows.

Seagrasses can absorb more carbon up to 40 faster than terrestrial forests and these ecosystems become sources of CO2 emissions when they are degraded or destroyed. A major driver of seagrass decline is nutrient pollution from sewage.

Discharge levels of wastewater (sewage) into the North Sea at Whitburn, South Tyneside, are controlled by an environmental permit (245/1207) which was authorised by the Secretary of State after a public inquiry into the local sewage system was held in October 2001. It is a bespoke permit with strict conditions aimed at limiting the levels of sewage discharges.
Despite these conditions, the sewage system at Whitburn (in a landmark ruling) was found by a court (ECJ) in 2012 to be not in compliance with the Urban Waste Water Directive. Too much sewage continues to be discharged into the environment at Whitburn without the required treatment.
In 2015 a new sewer was built which directs new flows to the Whitburn system and no application was made to vary the permit to allow for these new flows. These new flows contravene the conditions of the permit 245/1207.
Huge volumes of sewage are discharged during light to moderate rainfall - normal seasonal and climatic conditions.
The system remains in breach of environmental law as the discharges are only allowed in 'exceptional circumstances'.
The application to vary permit 245/1207 will retrospectively permit new flows to enter the system.
Extra flows to the sewage system increase the volumes of sewage discharged through the Long Sea Outfall at Whitburn and so increases sewage pollution in our coastal waters.
This sewage pollution harms the environment and risks the health of recreational users of the sea at the popular resorts along the North East coast.
The application by Northumbrian Water Limited to vary the permit has been required by the Environment Agency to be made (5 years after the new sewer was constructed) only after a complaint was made.
The application is being considered presently without any public consultation.
Public consultation lets people and organisations take part in the Environment Agency's decision making.
(Image is courtesy of John Short)

How it will be delivered

The petition is to be delivered to the Environment Agency by email

Whitburn, Sunderland SR6, UK

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL



2022-02-23 11:19:32 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2021-03-14 20:36:28 +0000

500 signatures reached

2021-03-13 20:47:39 +0000

Our campaign is now supported by our local MP, local environment groups such as South Tyneside Environmental Protection group, national groups such as Marine Conservation for the UK and is being considered by Surfers against Sewage.

2021-03-10 21:29:33 +0000

100 signatures reached

2021-03-10 18:36:06 +0000

50 signatures reached

2021-03-10 15:03:51 +0000

25 signatures reached

2021-03-10 12:43:22 +0000

10 signatures reached