CAMPAIGNERS in Ilkley are welcoming a Yorkshire Water commitment to finding a solution to the problem of raw sewage in the River Wharfe.

The issue was raised at a town meeting last week when 70 residents met with Yorkshire Water, the Environment Agency, Ilkley and Keighley MP Robbie Moore and Town Mayor Mark Stidworthy.

In a statement the Ilkley Clean River Campaign Group said: “At the meeting Yorkshire Water announced that rather than waiting ten years to sort out the problem of excessive sewage discharges into the river, as set out by the Environment Agency, they will bring the investigation and solution finding through to this year with subsequent investment in cleaning up the water in Ilkley.

“They will not be bound by the EA’s timescales but will act as quickly as they can.”

“This commitment is a significant step to a better environment for both the ecology of the water and for our children to paddle, play and swim in the river, and for people to picnic by the river without fear of pollution and public health hazards.

“The Clean River Group is delighted with the announcement and looks forward to seeing the imaginative, future facing solution to providing clean water in Ilkley that will withstand climate change and population growth.”

Ilkley is still waiting for Defra to undertake its consultation on the Towns Bathing Water Status Application, and the clean river group is hoping for a decision in May this year.

The campaign group statement says: “The Clean River Citizen Science testing will continue covering the Wharfe from the source to beyond York to catalyse a whole river clean up as the next step so everyone can enjoy clean river water.”

This week a Yorkshire Water spokesman said: “We continue to have positive discussions with the Ilkley Clean River Group and we will do all we can to accelerate the investigation process so we will know what future improvements may need to be made. In the meantime, our surveys have identified three underground water courses which connect with the sewage network and we are monitoring the flow of these to see if diverting them would make a significant difference. If we can reduce the amount of surface water entering the sewage network this should mean that overflows will operate less frequently.”