Statement from Cllr Alex Rennie, Leader of Havant Borough Council

Friday, 15 October, 2021

“Last weekend, the Environment Agency (EA) issued a severe “abnormal situation” warning against going into the sea off Hayling Island.

“This was based solely upon anecdotal reports that were sent in from members of the public.

“I want to assure residents that since the notice has been issued, Havant Borough Council has been in discussion with the EA over why it was issued and the timeline for triggering the notice. They have assured me that after both despatching officers to the scene and reviewing images taken by the public that the notice was a ‘false alarm’.

“They believe the water colouring and smell was due to natural causes such as decaying algae. While this was the case, I remain totally unsatisfied with both the timeline for investigations, the decision to issue the warning and the failure of the EA to either publicise the warning at the time of the incident or to share information with Havant Borough Council as the coastal authority.

“We are fortunate that on this occasion the EA inform me, based upon their analysis, that it was a false alarm, but I am continuing to urge the EA to improve their systems in the event of a genuine pollution issue in future.

“While I’m proud that we have a blue flag beach which is regularly tested as having excellent water quality, we need to have absolute faith in the regulator that holds Southern Water to account.

“I will be inviting the EA to further talks in the Havant borough in the weeks to come to fully understand this issue and to make sure it is not repeated again.”