Climping swimmer ‘appalled’ by the ‘disgusting’ quality of water

A military veteran who regularly swims in the sea for his mental and physical health has raised concern about the quality of the water.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 11:49 am

Hamish Neathercoat, of Apple Tree Walk, Climping, said he was reluctant to get back into the water after seeing what he thought was a ‘great-big sewage plume’ drift past shortly before 9am on Saturday, October 23. 

“I’m appalled,” he said. “It’s just disgusting. I suspect I’m probably swimming in it most of the time, without realising it.

“I’m an veteran and I carry a lot of injuries. Cold-water swimming is really beneficial to both mental and physical health.

Hamish Neathercoat is concerned about sewage at Climping Beach, Littlehampton. Pic S Robards SR2111053 SUS-210611-164532001

“If I don’t get in the sea, I don’t move. I go for an hour, dolphins join me and I’ve had seals out there. It’s an absolute joy. 

“Then you think, ‘why am I swimming in it?’”

Both Southern Water and the Environment Agency strongly denied that what Mr Neathercoat saw was sewage. 

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We take our responsibility to protect the environment very seriously, and thank the public for alerting us to this suspected pollution.

Hamish Neathercoat is concerned about sewage at Climping Beach, Littlehampton. Pic S Robards SR2111053 SUS-210611-164517001

“Fortunately in this case we found no evidence of sewage at the beach in question. Following investigations, it appeared that the discolouration of the water was due to natural causes. 

“Such events can happen following stormy conditions due to collections of decaying algae.”

Responding directly to Mr Neathercoat, Southern Water confirmed a verified ‘storm release’ had taken place at 8.47am on October 23, from Sea Road in Littlehampton. 

The firm said there had been no negligence but agreed to cover the Mr Neathercoat’s hepatitis A vaccine ‘as a gesture of goodwill’.

Hamish Neathercoat is concerned about sewage at Climping Beach, Littlehampton. Pic S Robards SR2111053 SUS-210611-164418001

Southern Water confirmed the Gazette that the October 23 release had gone through a 3km-long outfall, would not have been visible from the shore and would never have approached the beach.

A Southern Water spokesman said: “We responded quickly to reports of from customers around Climping Beach and share their concern for the environment. 

“We have no outfalls in that area and rigorous checking of our data show we have had no recent releases along that stretch of coast.

“Our beach visit found no evidence of the incident either. Subsequent visits have also found no evidence any of our assets could have caused this.”

Hamish Neathercoat is concerned about sewage at Climping Beach, Littlehampton. Pic S Robards SR2111053 SUS-210611-164506001

Southern said customers ‘play a vital role in acting as our eyes’ and encouraged them to report anything they see which worries them giving as much detail on the location as possible.

“We aim to be there within an hour of a report,” the spokesperson said. 

“We monitor all our outfalls constantly with sensors connected to our control centre. 

“Any potential release which could affect one of the 83 designated bathing waters around our coastline is put on our Beachbuoy web page so people using the water can see what’s happening.”

The Environment Agency also encouraged the public to continue to report suspected pollution incidents to the incident hotline on 0800 807060.

Hamish Neathercoat is concerned about sewage at Climping Beach, Littlehampton. Pic S Robards SR2111053 SUS-210611-164440001
Hamish Neathercoat is concerned about sewage at Climping Beach, Littlehampton. Pic S Robards SR2111053 SUS-210611-164429001