New figures from the Environment Agency have revealed thousands of hours of raw sewage were spilling into open water in the North East in 2022.

In Darlington alone there were 530 spills which discharged for 2,179 hours in total.

All of these spillages were from Northumbrian Water's network.

In County Durham there were nearly 10,000 spills throughout 2022.

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Tessa Wardley, director of communications for The Rivers Trust, has called for "robust, urgent action".

She said: "Discharging untreated sewage in dry weatehr is bad for both human health and river health - lower river flows mean more concentrated pollutants at a time when more people want to enjoy their rivers.

"Although a problem in their own right, these discharges are also the 'canary in the coalmine' pointing to greater problems in our sewerage and river systems.

"This could be blockages in the system, groundwater seeping into broken pipes, misconnections or just poor management choices."

In Richmondshire there were also thousands of spills last year.

Figures from the Environment Agency reveal that there were 2,275 discharges within the Richmondshire local authority boundaries in 2022.

Just over 2,000 of those hours were from Yorkshire Water's network and 255 were from Northumbrian Water.

The spills took place over 14,205 hours.

Yorkshire Water saw 54,273 spills across its network, 95% of the company's facilities reported overspill data last year.

Northumbrian Water had 29,697 spills recorded at all sites operated by the company, based on data from 6% of the company's facilities that could provide figures.

In total there were more than 300,000 overspills across England in 2022.

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Water minister Rebecca Pow described the situation as "totally unacceptable".

She said: "Targets set by the governent to reduce storm overflows are very strict and are leading to the largest infrastructure programme in water company history - £56 billion over the next 25 years.

"Shortly, water companies will also publish action plans for every storm overflow in England, something the Environment Secretary has personally pressed for."