A Cornwall councillor made a jibe about South West Water being in court “more times than the Krays” over sewage discharges when a full meeting of the local authority voted today (Tuesday, November 28) in favour of a motion to protect the ocean.

Independent councillor Julian German tabled the “motion for the ocean” to ensure the council considers the impact on the sea around Cornwall when it makes decisions.

It will also lobby central government to improve resources and agree to enact Surfers Against Sewage’s End Sewage Pollution manifesto.

The meeting heard that Devon, Plymouth, North Devon, Torridge, Teignmouth and Falmouth councils had all adopted the motion, and that recent protests in Portreath show the public’s desire for action.

The motion aims to recognise that the council “needs ocean recovery to meet its net zero carbon targets, and it needs net zero carbon to recover our ocean”. The council will now pledge to consider the impact on ocean recovery in all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to decisions particularly in planning, regeneration, skills and economic policy, aligning ocean recovery with climate emergency plans.

The local authority will also work with partners to deliver increased sustainability in local marine industries and invest in the development of a sustainable blue economy, including the local fishing industry and the vital work of Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

Pledges also include ocean literacy and marine citizenship across Cornwall, including ensuring all pupils have a first-hand experience of the ocean before leaving primary school.

Cornwall Council’s leader Cllr Linda Taylor will write to the Prime Minister to call on the Government to put the ocean into net recovery by 2030 by ensuring Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities have the resources they need to effectively research and monitor our growing number of marine protected areas, and to set and enforce appropriate fishing levels that support local economies and deliver environmental sustainability.

Cllr Stephen Barnes responded to the motion: “I think a lot of the problems with the ocean comes down to South West Water (SWW) and the Environment Agency who are meant to be protecting the environment and simply aren’t funded to do a good enough job.

“If we had someone going around with a truck fly-tipping and chucking stuff in a river, this council would quite rightly jump all over them and take them to court, but South West Water just pump it into the rivers, streams and sea, and nothing happens. Occasionally they get fined – South West Water’s been in court more times than the Krays. Nothing changes – the Government does nothing.”

Cllr Philip Desmonde said the motion is a “marvellous opportunity to put some flesh on our concerns” and asked that SWW and the Environment Agency attend a neighbourhoods scrutiny committee meeting to answer questions about developments they have made – “if any” – to tackle discharges around the Cornish coast.

Cllr Laurie Magowan added: “If we are to be successful in achieving the ambitions of this motion we need to invest in and strengthen our existing partnerships at all levels of management and policy, and to lobby at a national level, which is already taking place.”

After the meeting, Cllr German said: “I am delighted to have taken Surfers Against Sewage’s End Sewage Pollution manifesto and the local government ‘motion for the ocean’ to Cornwall Council. These received unanimous support across the chamber.

“Councillors spoke about the need for Cornwall Council and partners to take action, for bringing all those able take action together, and for a clear route map for taking action to be produced. Councillors have given clear direction and I look forward to Cornwall Council taking action.”