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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Claims over beach closures
Teignmouth Beach
Teignmouth Beach was one of four affected by the sewage spill
Business leaders in Devon are calling for immediate compensation payments following sewage pollution at several beaches.

Four beaches in south Devon had to be closed to swimmers on Friday afternoon and all of Saturday after a mains sewage pipeline fractured.

The four beaches affected by sewage escaping into the Teign estuary were Teignmouth main and back beaches, Shaldon Beach and The Ness.

South West Water engineers fixed the problem by the early hours of Saturday, but it took until Sunday morning for water quality testing to be completed by the Environment Agency before the beaches could reopen.

Throughout the incident, at no time did the bathing waters ever fail standards
Stephen Bird,
South West Water
The incident occurred over a gloriously hot and sunny weekend during a peak time in the South West tourist season.

Business leaders regard the negative publicity caused by national coverage of the incident as highly damaging.

The Business Council says part of the compensation could come from South West Water (SWW) if legal action is taken by the Environment Agency and fines are imposed.

Anthony Brenner, owner of Teignmouth Pier, estimated that turnover on Saturday was down about 30%.

He said: "If there is any blame attachable to anybody, then obviously compensation will be called for."

South West Water says it will consider any claims, but points out that the quality of bathing waters remained within European standards at all times.

Red warning flags at Teignmouth beach
Red flags and notices were put up to warn bathers
South West Water Operations Director Stephen Bird said: "We will look at every individual compensation claim on its merits and, if there is a case, then we will compensate.

"Throughout the incident, at no time did the bathing waters ever fail standards because of our prompt action."

The Business Council says it recognises the pipe burst was an accident, but special help is essential to repair damage caused to the tourist industry.

The council is calling on government agencies to provide financial assistance.

It says funds could then be directed to tourist initiatives or to a special tourist campaign promoted by South West Tourism.

It is also seeking specific assistance for individual businesses that have been badly affected by the sewage spill.

Beaches reopened after spill
03 Aug 03  |  Devon

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