A PUMPING station in south Cumbria discharged sewage for more time in 2023 than anywhere else in the North West, new figures reveal.

Data from the Environment Agency shows Cark-in-Cartmel pumping station, which is operated by United Utilities, discharged sewage into the River Eea for 6,471.6 hours in 2023.

MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron labelled the level as ‘environmental vandalism’.

According to figures from the Environment Agency this represents a 46 per cent increase on the year before when the pumping station spilt for 4,420 hours.

A United Utilities spokesman said the area has a ‘unusually high water table’ which means groundwater and rainfall can affect the sewer system in the area.

The company is also proposing £1.5 million of investment to double the treatment capacity of the site.

Mr Farron wrote a letter to the Chief Executive of United Utilities calling on the company to commit to using tankers instead of the River Eea as a ‘dumping ground’.

Mr Farron said: “The level of sewage being discharged into the River Eea is simply unconscionable and cannot be seen as anything other than environmental vandalism.

“United Utilities must keep their promise they made to local people by using tankers, rather than polluting our precious river.”

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “We are already taking action at Cartmel-in-Cark, to date we have installed new pumps which help push forward flows, and re-lined parts of the network to help stop water ingress.

“We are also proposing to make further investment of £1.5 million which will double the treatment capacity.

“In addition, we have been working with the owners of Cartmel Racecourse to put in place a care plan whereby tankers are brought in to remove the additional commercial flows we see around race days.

“The area has an unusually high water table which means groundwater and rainfall can affect the sewer system in the area.

“With 2023 being one of the wettest years on record, groundwater levels have remained high all year and sewers have been fuller for longer with both groundwater and rainwater and so we are also working with local stakeholders to look at how groundwater and rainwater can be managed more effectively in this area.

“We understand and share people’s concerns about the need for change when it comes to the use of storm overflows and that’s why we are proposing a £3 billion programme to tackle them across the North West between 2025 and 2030.”