The government’s storm sewage amendment feels like ‘an attempt to pacify critics’ – Cllr. Jess Bailey

“Duty on sewerage undertakers to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows.” No timetable, no list of penalties, no new teeth for the Environment Agency, it’s all “tbd”.

As reported in Monday’s Daily Express (double page spread under headline: “UK rivers ‘little better than open sewers’”) last year, sewage pumped or spilled into English rivers 403,171 times, up 38%  on 2019.

Dear Simon and Neil, under Boris Johnson’s government do you realise river pollution is getting worse? 

If you are committed to “improving water quality” (see Simon Jupp at reference) what are you actually going to do?

Or is it just: “Blah, Blah, Blah”? – Owl

Will Goddard

An Otter Valley councillor for Devon County Council has said that the government’s amendment to the Environment Bill feels more like ‘an attempt to pacify critics, rather than a meaningful attempt to clean up the rivers and sea’.

Her comments come after MPs passed a compromise last night (Monday 8 November) to disagree with a House of Lords plan to put a ‘duty on sewerage undertakers’ to make sure raw sewage is not dumped in rivers and coastal waters, and instead propose ‘a reduction of adverse impact of storm overflows’ and make it enforceable under a different Act.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp voted with the government, saying he was ‘committed to improving water quality in East Devon’.

DCC Cllr Jess Bailey (Ind., Otter Valley) said: “The extent of sewage discharged into rivers and the sea is horrifying. Sewage is discharged into the River Otter from many sites including sites at Honiton, Newton Poppleford and Fluxton for thousands of hours each year.

“This is putting our wildlife at risk and threatening the existence of the beavers. That is why I have written to the CEO of South West Water calling for action on their sewage discharges.

“The Government’s amendment … goes nowhere near far enough. It feels like more of an attempt to pacify critics, rather than a meaningful attempt to clean up the rivers and sea.

“I would want to see targets for clear up, time scales, penalties for offences and a duty on the Environment Agency to ensure compliance, none of which have been included. More needs to be done, urgently.”

You can read the section about storm overflows (pages 5-9) in the latest version of the Environment Bill here.

SEE ALSO: Sidmouth: ‘I am committed to improving water quality in East Devon’ – Simon Jupp MP

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