THE River Tone through Taunton’s French Weir Park has been officially designated with Bathing Water Status today (May 13).

One of the leading figures behind the application has welcomed the news but slammed new statistics on sewage discharges into local rivers.

A total of 27 new designated sites will now receive regular water monitoring by the Environment Agency.

However, new figures analysing sewage dumped in council areas have revealed that sewage was dumped into waterways in Somerset West and Taunton Deane for 31,526 hours in 2023.

The analysis is based on official data from the Environment Agency, compiled by the House of Commons Library for the Liberal Democrats. It shows sewage was dumped into local rivers on 3,350 separate occasions in 2023. 

This is a shocking 186 per cent rise in the duration of sewage spills compared to the previous year.

Gideon Amos, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Taunton and Wellington, said: “I'm delighted that – following the application I made, with support of Friends of French Weir Park – the new Bathing Water Status has been designated today.

“Today’s designation means the river here in Taunton will be measured and monitored and results made public for the first time – if it’s not good enough, measures will be required of the water companies to clean it up”.

“The Liberal Democrats first began the campaign to get sewage out of our rivers and seas in the 1990s.

“On doorstep after doorstep, people in Taunton and Wellington tell me they want a government that will protect our environment.

“They’re furious that filthy sewage has been pumped into their rivers and waterways - and want to send this Conservative government a strong message that our planet matters. 

“Our Liberal Democrat solution would bring in a tougher water regulator, would end bonuses going to the bosses of these polluting companies and put public interest companies in their place with a duty to put the environment ahead of the profits they’re taking out of the service.”

The application for Bathing Water Status in French Weir Park was supported by over 300 people who went swimming in the Tone last summer.