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Activists demand Yorkshire Water clean up sewage-polluted river

ENVIRONMENT campaigners protested at a sewage treatment plant today over privateer Yorkshire Water’s pollution of a Pennine river.

They demanded that the company “stop paying huge bonuses and dividends and use the money to clean up.”

The once healthy River Calder runs through the Calder Valley in the Yorkshire Pennines and is home to communities such as Todmorden and Hebden Bridge.

It is listed at number two in a league table of Britain’s most polluted rivers.

Yorkshire Water uses the region’s rivers as a dumping ground for effluent — and sometimes raw sewage — from sewage treatment plants.

Activists from Calderdale Extinction Rebellion (XR) targeted Yorkshire Water’s Eastwood treatment plant which deals with the human and industrial waste of the upper Calder Valley.

They also marched into nearby Hebden Bridge and protested on the town’s historic Old Packhorse Bridge.

Calderdale XR said: “According to Environment Agency data, compiled by dirty water campaign group ‘Top of the Poops,’ the River Calder was inundated with sewage on a total of 2,954 occasions, totalling 18,051 hours, in 2022.”

Hebden Bridge school student Zahira Greenacre, 15, said: “I love outdoor swimming and I’m shocked that sewage was released into our river 3,000 times last year.

“Polluters must pay.”

Finn Jensen, 74, of Blackshaw Head, said “It is a scandal that our rivers are so polluted with sewage.

“Now the water companies want us to pay for the clean-up with increased water bills for the next 10 years after they have paid billions of pounds to shareholders since privatisation.

“We have to renationalise the water industry.”

Yorkshire Water said that while it had not acted quickly enough to deal with storm overflows the company was “determined to tackle this issue and do our bit for water quality.”

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