Open letter to Neil Parish MP: 1,000 sewer overflows Honiton and Tiverton last year

[And don’t forget the beavers trying to survive in it, as reported in the Times yesterday – Owl]

Dear Neil Parish MP,

Sewer storm overflows spilled over 1,000 times and for over 10,000 hours into your Tiverton and Honiton constituency watercourses, using government permits, in the year 2020. In the same period tens of thousands of spills flowed into water courses across the South West for hundreds of thousands of hours.

Neil, these outcomes were predicted when in you voted in favour of deregulation of the private water industry, and for a 75% reduction of Environment Agency funding.

According to South West water’s own figures reported by The Rivers Trust, these are just a few of the spills recorded in Tiverton and Honiton constituency in 2020:

• Seaton South sewer storm overflow spilled 59 times into the River Axe Estuary for a total of 877 hours, using a government permit.

• Holcombe Rogus sewer storm overflow spilled 207 times into tributary of River Lyner for a total of 3085 hours, using a government permit.

• Honiton sewer storm overflow spilled 137 times into the River Otter for a total of 2442 hours, using a government permit.

• Kilmington sewer storm overflow spilled 163 times into the River Axe for a total of 1681 hours, using a government permit.

• Tiverton’s Westexe sewer storm overflow spilled 130 times into the River Exe for a total of 2120 hours, using a government permit.

• Tiverton’s Little Silver sewer storm overflow spilled 107 times into the River Exe for a total of 1191 hours, using a government permit.

• Broadhembury sewer storm overflow spilled 41 times into the Tale River for a total of 452 hours using a government permit

• Cullompton’s Duke Street sewer storm overflow spilled 57 times into the River Culm for a total of 900 hours, using a government permit.

• Bampton sewer storm overflow spilled 73 times for a total of 1716 hours into the River Batherm, using a government permit.

• Colyton sewer storm overflow spilled 63 times for a total of 700 hours into the River Axe using a government permit.

• Dunkeswell sewer storm overflow spilled 55 times into the Madford River for a total of 268 hours, using a government permit.

• Willand sewer storm overflow spilled 75 times into the River Culm for a total of 1233 hours, using a government permit.

• Sampford Peverell sewer storm overflow spilled 123 times into Spratford Stream for a total of 1125 hours, using a government permit.

• Halberton’s Corner Lane sewer storm overflow spilled into Halberton Stream 69 times for a total of 308 hours, using a government permit.

Neil, you let residents down when you voted with the government against the Sewage Bill. The time for action is now. I urge your government to:

  1. Make funding and regulatory support available to farmers upstream specifically to invest in restorative farming and land management for increased ground water retention
  2. Restore the £1 billion a year the Chancellor has pocketed away from Britain’s flood defences over a decade
  3. Ensure that South West Water invests in infrastructure upgrades to cope with the clear evidence of increasing peak volumes in the watercourses
  4. Regulate new housing development to require sustainable urban drainage systems
  5. Outlaw the widespread practice of granting planning permission to developers for new building on floodplains
  6. Restore the 40% of central funding the Chancellor has pocketed away over a decade from local authority highways’ maintenance budgets for our gullies, easements, buddle holes, grips , ditches and drains

As the longstanding Chair of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Committee, and as our MP, these are failures of your most basic of responsibilities. Decisive action must start now. Your residents are horrified by the sheer volume of pollutants in our environment, in our food chain and in the water we swim in. Will you commit to supporting these six immediate priorities, or remain complicit in this government’s conscious degradation of Britain’s natural environment?

Sincerely,

Liz Pole

Constituency Spokesperson

Tiverton and Honiton Labour Party

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