Surfers Against Sewage campaigners visit Dales river to learn about pollution

From left, Ann McKelvey, Chloe Flood, Kirsty Davies and Katie Bone from Surfers Against Sewage with Prof Loukota at the Upper Falls at Aysgarth.

A Surfers Against Sewage team visited Aysgarth Falls this week to find out about pollution in the River Ure.

They were invited by Richard Loukota, the interim chair of a group being formed to campaign against the pollution of the River Ure and its tributaries.

It is expected that this group will be formally launched on Tuesday evening at a meeting at 6pm in Leyburn Methodist Church Hall.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has embarked on an Election Road Trip travelling the length of the UK to galvanise communities to demand election candidates end sewage pollution. It wants to take the sewage debate to political, sewage and surfing hotspots.

It was invited by Save Our Swale (SOS) to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency to hold one of its hustings at Richmond on Friday evening.

The Association of Rural Communities, which has sponsored the creation of the River Ure group, has pointed out that the falls at Aysgarth are affected by raw sewage discharges.

With its brightly painted open-top double-decker battle bus its team on Thursday visited the Upper Falls at Aysgarth where they were met by Prof  Loukota and others keen to see an end to the pollution of the River Ure.

Prof Loukota said: “Surfers Against Sewage are very keen to have safe water for everyone and they have been incredibly supportive of Save Our Swale.

“They have kindly offered their support with everything you need to know when you are setting up a group.”

He added that many of the visitors at the Falls that day did not realise how much the River Ure was polluted, both from sewage and also agricultural run-off.

Having a River Ure group will, he said, help them to work collaboratively not only with SOS, the Nidd Action Group and the Ilkley Clean River Group but also nationally with others such as Surfers Against Sewage.

“We are struggling together,” he said.

The professor hopes an online database for rivers could be developed similar to the Surfers Against Sewage one for our seas and oceans.

“I think the pollution of the rivers is becoming something people are concerned about and it is going to affect their voting,” he added.