Watch: Green activists fish emoji turds from Sheffield’s River Don to highlight sewage pollution concerns

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Environmental campaigners pretended to fish poo out of the River Donn this weekend to highlight their concerns about water quality.

Sheffield Friends of the Earth held the unique demonstration on Saturday, June 1, to highlight what they have called “shocking” levels of sewage dumped into the nation’s rivers and seas.

It comes as they prepare to call for a new law to “give everyone the right to live in a healthy environment”.

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Sheffield Friends of the Earth held a stunt around the River Don to highlight concerns of sewage discharge in the nation's waterways.Sheffield Friends of the Earth held a stunt around the River Don to highlight concerns of sewage discharge in the nation's waterways.
Sheffield Friends of the Earth held a stunt around the River Don to highlight concerns of sewage discharge in the nation's waterways. | Sheffield Friends of the Earth

Shaun Rumbelow from Sheffield Friends of the Earth said: “We should be able to walk along our rivers and see them alive with fish, otters and kingfishers rather than turds, wet wipes and plastic.

“It’s ironic that we were fishing for fake turds next to an overflow pipe with a monitoring system that’s not working. This means more **** is entering our rivers than officially reported.

“We urgently need a new environmental law which would grant us the right to a healthy environment and enable us to hold polluters to account.”

The activists want to see a law that would empower communities to hold regulators and public bodies to account for failing to protect our precious waterways.

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Earlier this year, Yorkshire Water paid a £150,000 penalty for an unauthorised sewage discharge into the river Don.

Latest Environment Agency sewage overflow figures from 2023, shows that Yorkshire Water had 77,761 spill events which released sewage for more than half a million hours (516,386).

Sheffield Friends of the Earth is calling for a new law to allow communities to hold regulators and public bodies to account for failing to protect our precious waterways.Sheffield Friends of the Earth is calling for a new law to allow communities to hold regulators and public bodies to account for failing to protect our precious waterways.
Sheffield Friends of the Earth is calling for a new law to allow communities to hold regulators and public bodies to account for failing to protect our precious waterways. | Sheffield Friends of the Earth

The figures for Sheffield’s constituency areas shows that there were 5,840 spills in 2023 which lasted for a total of just under 30,000 hours, although the data does not necessarily represent all the untreated sewage that has been discharged.

Liddy Goyder, from Sheffield Friends of the Earth said: “With a general election now only a few weeks away, all the candidates standing in Sheffield constituencies need to understand how important it is to tackle these urgent threats to our local environment.”

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The group claimed members of the four main political parties were invited to join the demonstration, but only members of the Green Party attended.

You can support Sheffield Friends of the Earth’s campaign by visiting www.sheffieldfoe.co.uk.

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