ACTIVISTS came together at Lydney Harbour on the weekend to cast “shame” on the water companies repeatedly polluting local waterways through discharges of raw sewage.

Members of Forest of Dean Extinction Rebellion (XR) and local samba band ‘Forest Thump’ were joined by giant puppet ‘The Goddess of the Wye’ in protest at the docks to once again draw the public’s attention to the pollution of our rivers on Saturday (August 20).

The group chatted with the public about their cause and suggested ways of putting further pressure on government to take stronger action, “to restore health to a resource so vital to biodiversity and a thriving personal and economic environment.”

Locals were invited to sign a petition demanding that a national plan is put in place ‘to have all water bodies in England and Wales in good ecological and chemical condition by 2030’.

It also called for a ban on payments of private water dividends and a cap on household water bills ensuring sufficient investment is available, and to take immediate action to cut agricultural pollution and offer increased financial support to farmers to move towards sustainable agriculture.

Lastly it asks the government to act to protect our natural aquatic spaces by ‘ensuring that all relevant bodies enforcing high standards of water protection and environmental conservation are properly resourced’.

Event organiser Piers Cardiff pointed to statistics obtained by the group for last year.

Between them the Lydney Sewage Works at the East Marsh Pumping Station and Blakeney Sewage Works had sewer storm overflows 347 times into the Severn and the Lyd for a total of 3423 hours.

Piers commented: “This is bonkers.

“We need our government to hold the water companies to account and to force them to properly invest in water treatment infrastructure and the agencies that monitor them.”

A total of 74 people signed the petition, and the group say it was clear from people’s comments - locals out for a walk and visiting tourists - who should be taking the action.

“We know this is happening – but very little action seems to have been taken.

“The Government must step up.

“Unaccountable private water companies are to blame – with profits going everywhere except towards the improvements in infrastructure that are needed.

“The Government must step in and enforce proper action to be taken.”

Apart from signing the petition, the group encouraged people to write to local MP, Mark Harper and to become active with the local XR group.

For more information or to express interest in joining the group, email [email protected].