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Bill Boycott launched in Yorkshire by Save our Swale Campaign

By Chris Brooke, Daily Mail

7th August 2023

Residents are being urged to join a water bill boycott to protest against sewage contamination in a river flowing through some of Britain's most beautiful countryside.

The River Swale in the Yorkshire Dales is suffering devastating harm from pollution blamed on the regional water company and local farmers.

Waters that were once packed with brown trout and grayling are now sparsely populated due to the state of the river, say campaigners.

A Save Our Swale clean-up campaign has been launched by residents determined to force a change. And increasingly, customers are refusing to pay wastewater charges on their bills from Yorkshire Water.

The bill boycott action is also taking place across the country in a bid to force water firms to reduce sewage discharges into the sea and rivers – with many of the boycotters threatened with legal action and debt collection enforcement.

Last month more than 100 people filled the Town Hall in Richmond, North Yorkshire, for a campaign launch meeting.

Campaigners have accused Yorkshire Water in a public letter of 'persistently releasing untreated sewage into the River Swale'.

This was adding to the pollution caused by the local farming industry, with the introduction of more trees and fences to keep livestock away from the river banks.

The 73-mile-long river, which flows in to the River Ouse, is currently failing pollution tests in all three of its catchment areas.

It follows a major pollution incident on April 13 this year, which is said to have killed thousands of fish, including rare species.

Angler Ron Wood, chairman of Gilling West Fly Fishers, recalled how thousands of litres of slurry were released in to the river, turning it black. 'I have never seen such a shocking sight,' he said.

The Environment Agency described the incident as the most serious level of pollution. Yorkshire Water declined to comment on the campaign, but said efforts were being made to reduce sewage.

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