Campaign group Dirty Water Bristol installed satirical blue plaques around Bristol harbour, over the weekend criticising politicians who voted to allow sewage into waterways.
Members of Extinction Rebellion, local health professionals and a group of synchronised swimmers put up the blue plaques around Bristol Harbour, at sites along the River Frome and in Keynsham. Similar plaques were installed by anti-sewage campaigners across the UK.
A further plaque received a more theatrical unveiling in Conham River Park by a person dressed as Jacob Rees-Mogg, accompanied by a giant poo.
The Dirty Water Bristol campaign targets Jacob Rees Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, and Luke Hall, MP for Thornbuy and Yate, who in October 2021 voted down an amendment that would have required water companies to reduce sewage discharge into open water.
Daniel Juniper, 27 from Bedminster, spokesperson for Dirty Water Bristol, said: ‘We’ve watched in horror as our rivers and seas have become open sewers since October 2021, when the government voted down a proposal to stop water companies pumping waste directly into our rivers and seas.
‘They justified this by claiming that the proposal was too expensive. These plaques shine a light on the government’s failure to protect our waterways, the natural world, and all of us.’
The plaques read: “Jacob Rees-Mogg / Luke Hall MP / The UK Government Voted to block a law requiring water companies to dump less raw sewage in our waterways and seas 20.10.21”.
The cleanliness of the water in Bristol harbour has long been an issue for campaigners. Last October, campaigners held a swimsuit rave outside City Hall calling for designated bathing status for the harbour and River Avon.
Last summer, at least 90 beaches were closed to the public after a series of sewage discharges by water companies left the sand and sea contaminated with human sewage. Government ministers admitted at the time that they in fact had no idea exactly how many beaches were closed.
In a January 2022 report, the government’s Environmental Audit Committee found that only 14% of the UK’s rivers achieve “good” ecological status and criticised monitoring systems as “outdated, underfunded and inadequate”.
Clean water campaigner Etienne Stott, former Olympic gold medal canoeist, said: ‘It’s disgusting, literally, to think what’s being pumped into our rivers. The government and the water companies aren’t going to clean up unless ordinary people put pressure on them.
‘Extinction Rebellion can’t do this alone. We need everyone who cares about our rivers and seas to stand up with us and speak out. Today is just the first part of a bigger campaign to protect nature and our waterways. More actions will be taking place over the coming months.’