The number of recorded sewage spills in Scotland’s rivers and seas has increased by 40% over the last five years, new figures show.

Scottish Water data shows the equivalent of 47,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of waste has been discharged since 2016. Campaigners are calling for more action to tackle the water waste issue.

But Scottish Water has warned the problem will not be solved by “building bigger and bigger sewers”. When there is heavy rain parts of the sewer network simply cannot cope.

To stop sewage backing up into homes, the storm water and waste that would ordinarily go to Scottish Water treatment centres is released into seas or rivers through the 3,697 Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) dotted across the country. Many of these overflow pipes are close to popular beaches and wildlife habitats.