River protest to highlight pollution as Dragon Boat Festival sets sail

Campaigners fighting the dumping of sewage in the Severn will stage a march this Saturday from Coton Hill to the Quarry Park, before the town’s annual Dragon Boat Festival.

‘We’re thrilled that the wonderful Dragon Boat Festival is returning to the River Severn after a two-year hiatus,’ says Claire Kirby of campaign group Up Sewage Creek. ‘Sadly, in the time since the festival was last held, the quality of England’s rivers has gotten steadily worse. If we want to keep using rivers like the Severn for leisure and pleasure, we need to stop the water companies from treating them like a toilet.’   Public concern over the quality of England’s waterways is now at a record high. Last week, the Environment Agency released a bombshell report showing that water companies’ performance on pollution was the worst seen in years. The agency took the shock step of calling for chief executives to be jailed if they continue to pollute the waterways. According to the Environment Agency, the River Severn saw 21,000 hours of discharge from the 39 Combined Sewer Overflows in Shrewsbury in 2020. Just 14% of English rivers are ecologically healthy, with pollution from raw sewage, agriculture slurry, roads, and single-use plastics becoming what the government’s Environmental Audit Committee (chaired by Shropshire MP Philip Dunne) recently called a “chemical cocktail”. The march will start at Chester Street at 11am before heading to the Quarry Park. Along the way there will be street theatre – including a performance of a short play about Sabrina, Goddess of the River Severn – and an information stall in the park.