'We need action': Has sewage been spewing into river for years?

Thorpe Island on the River Yare. Pictured inset is Thorpe St Andrew boat user Malcolm Martins 

Thorpe Island on the River Yare. Pictured inset is Thorpe St Andrew boat user Malcolm Martins - Credit: Simon Finlay/Malcolm Martins

Sewage spewing into a river at a city beauty spot was reported THREE years ago.

After pressure from the Evening News the Environment Agency has finally branded the ongoing spill "unacceptable" - but no immediate plan of action has been revealed.  

Health fears have been raised over the River Yare in Thorpe St Andrew where a misconnection has caused waste to be dumped into the water near where people hire boats and paddleboards. 

Human waste has also been spotted spilling into the river from Thorpe Island. And one concerned local claims they reported the sewage leak three years ago.

The Environment Agency has vowed to work with Thorpe St Andrew Town Council, Broadland District Council and the Broads Authority to resolve issue.. 

And the owner of Thorpe Island will have to pick up some of the costs for a new pipe system to be installed.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The issue of sewage discharging into the River Yare from Thorpe Island was down to a broken pipe under the river which was mended and then a misconnection into the surface water system. 

Human sewage has been leaking into the River Yare in Thorpe St Andrew from this white flap 

Human sewage has been leaking into the River Yare in Thorpe St Andrew from this white flap - Credit: Ian Mackie

“The impact of this on local wildlife would be small, partly due to the dilution in this tidal river. Nevertheless, discharges of untreated sewage into watercourses are not acceptable." 

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Broadland District Council has been working with a contractor to formulate a plan to install a new pipe that will connect the island to the main sewer system.

This work is being carried out as a result of non-compliance with an enforcement notice issued by the district council, the costs of which will be recovered from the island owner Roger Wood once the work is completed.

Efforts have been made to contact Mr Wood. 

County councillor Ian Mackie, who represents Thorpe St Andrew (Cons), has previously called for immediate enforcement action, stating "enough is enough" over the state of the river.

County councillor Ian Mackie

County councillor Ian Mackie - Credit: Contributed

Responding to the Environment Agency, Mr Mackie said: "It is essential that the pipe connecting the island to the main system is installed as soon as possible without delay. We have the intent. Now we need action.

"The town and district councils have been calling for action for some time and we are all frustrated at the pace.

"The Environment Agency hasn’t responded to the substantive point that raw sewage is currently going straight into the river from other sources.

"This is potentially a major public health hazard and cannot go on and on. I will be seeking a progress update in the next two weeks.”

Thorpe Island is located on a beautiful stretch of the River Yare near Norwich. Picture by SIMON FI

Thorpe Island is located on a beautiful stretch of the River Yare near Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Thorpe St Andrew historian Malcom Martins, 75, is among those who hire boats in the area. 

He reported issues with sewage to the Environment Agency three years ago.

Mr Martins said: "The river is very popular for paddleboarders and canoeists and I think that if someone fell in the river they could become very ill.

"It feels as if it will take 20 years before they sort it. There is no connection for the pipe for it to go the island. They need to pay some money up front to put in a proper system and a new pipe." 

Thorpe St Andrew historian Malcolm Martins 

Thorpe St Andrew historian Malcolm Martins - Credit: Malcolm Martins 

A businessman who lives in the island, who did not wish to be named, said: "Human sewage is unfortunately part and parcel of people living on the island."  

A spokesperson for the Thorpe St Andrew Town Council said: “The town council continues to advocate on behalf of residents to address wide-ranging issues related to mooring in this area.

"It is anticipated that further progress towards a resolution will be made in the coming weeks and months.”

Thorpe Island is located on a beautiful stretch of the River Yare near Norwich. Picture by SIMON FI

Thorpe Island is located on a beautiful stretch of the River Yare near Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Town mayor Sue Lawn said: “This has been an issue which we have been working on for a number of years.

"We all share the frustration others feel when they see sewage continuing to enter the watercourse near River Green.

"It is important we follow due process in resolving this issue, and I am pleased we are now getting close to a much-needed resolution.”

Sue Lawn, Thorpe St Andrew mayor 

Councillor Sue Lawn, Thorpe St Andrew mayor - Credit: Thorpe St Andrew Town Council

The Revd James Stewart of Thorpe St Andrew Parish Church said: "Many in our community, including the church, have been concerned about this situation.

"It is important for all of us who value the River Green as a uniquely picturesque part of Thorpe St Andrew that these issues are fully resolved once and for all - so that generations to come may treasure this place as much as we all do."

The public should report suspected pollution to the Environment Agency's free 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.