I would never vote to pollute our water – despite some claims suggesting otherwise: Simon Jupp MP

“I’m from Devon, I live near the sea in Sidmouth, and I love where we live…..I voted for a crackdown on sewage spills.” 

Well Simon it is true that you didn’t actually vote to pollute our water, but you did vote against imposing a legal duty to stop it, instead voting for something very much more “light touch”.

This Mirror article, published in August 2022 when sewage discharges onto beaches became a live issue once again, fact checked the arguments made by Tories.

August 2022, Simon, was when Owl reported you as “Missing in Action” when Richard Foord was interviewed by the BBC for a full three minutes on Budleigh beach. That’s your patch isn’t it? Where was your concern for the environment then?

Here is a brief summary of the the various votes:

In October 2021 Johnson’s Conservative government, with the votes of Simon Jupp and Neil Parish, succeeded in voting down a Lords amendment designed to stop private water companies from dumping raw sewage into the UK’s waterways. The amendment would have placed a legal duty on companies “to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.

Of course we now know that Neil may have been preoccupied fiddling with his phone to know what he was really doing.

No excuse for Simon Jupp.

In November 2021 what Simon voted for was a watered down version which changed a legal duty into a nebulous progressive aim of a “reduction of adverse impact of storm overflows’ and make it enforceable under a different Act.

Now in December 2022 the Government announced abandoning the principle of a legal target for river health, and postponing a deadline for agricultural run-off reduction by three years (from 2037 to 2040).

What goes in our rivers end in the sea. Oh, and who privatised the water companies?

Weekly column: South West Water must clean up their act


As your MP, I want South West Water to clean up their act – and I’m holding them to account, using legislation brought in by a Conservative government.

The government brought in the toughest ever crack down on sewage spills. That’s set out in law through the Environment Act, which I voted for.

The Environment Act and Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan ensures water companies will face strict limits on when they can use storm overflows. These should be genuinely exceptional circumstances to avoid sewage backing up into homes.

That’s what I voted for. A proper plan to crack down on an issue that has been around for decades under all previous governments. Under the Conservatives, we’re tackling the problem and taking on water companies who fail to act.

I would never vote to pollute our water – despite some claims suggesting otherwise. I’m from Devon, I live near the sea in Sidmouth, and I love where we live.

The government’s crackdown has forced water companies to embark on a £56 billion programme of investment.

Working cross-party with East Devon parish, town, district and county councillors, and environmental groups, I’m continuing to hold South West Water to account about their plans to invest in East Devon.

Last month, I chaired a meeting of the region’s MPs with South West Water’s Chief Executive. We were updated on what the company is doing to get a grip on sewage spills. Things are moving in the right direction, and not before time. South West Water’s storm overflow use halved from 2021 to 2022 across the bathing season and pollutions are at their lowest level in 10 years.

I’m continuing to press South West Water to urgently fix specific local problems as and when they do crop up, too. I’ve previously secured compensation for Clyst St Mary residents after foul flooding in the village.

At the moment, I’m working with Sidmouth Town Council and will be meeting with Escape Exmouth so we can work together to scrutinise South West Water on your behalf.

In all of this, the key thing is having the right data. Ministers have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 5% in 2016 to almost 90% now. That figure will reach 100% cover by end of this year. Following new data coming to light as a result of increased monitoring, the regulators – the Environment Agency and Ofwat – have launched the largest criminal and civil investigations into water company sewage discharges ever, at over 2,200 treatment works.

The public needs the right data, too. South West Water told me that they are launching an updated website with better and more timely information. It’s a step in the right direction, but more investment to improve the situation is what’s actually needed to provide peace of mind.

Not everyone is aware of this but the government subsidises water bills in our region by £50 per household every year. Despite pressures on public finances, that support will be continuing in 2023/24 thanks to lobbying by MPs.

The public expect water companies to keep their bills as low as possible to ease the cost of living. This is not the time to reward failure. Water company bosses have to demonstrate a link between their performance and their generous bonuses, through Ofwat’s licencing conditions.

South West Water was fined £13 million last year alone because of missed targets and will have to reduce customer bills accordingly. I’m awaiting the outcome of Ofwat’s ongoing investigation into water company sewage treatment works and Ofwat’s separate enforcement case against South West Water.

Future fines handed out to water companies will be channelled directly into work to improve water quality, which is another major step forward by the government.

I voted for a crackdown on sewage spills. We can now hold failing water companies to account – including the one-star rated South West Water.

This column first appeared in the Exmouth Journal on Wednesday 18th January 2023 and in the Sidmouth Herald later in the week.

Last August Owl was surprised that Simon Jupp let Richard Foord hold centre stage on Budleigh beach to talk about sewage pollution. Obviously not so very important to the hospitality sector so close to Simon’s heart, or the queries and casework he devoted the month to.

East Devon’s recycled festive trees make for chipper playtimes in Cranbrook

Recycled chippings from thousands of festive trees thrown out from East Devon homes will benefit a pupils’ mud kitchen and forest school in Cranbrook.

[For eco-warriors there’s an even greener way of disposing of the Christmas tree – Just eat it!  Pickled veg, herb tea, vinegar, even flavoured gin … an organic tree has many uses once the baubles are banished. Something for next year perhaps? – Owl]


More than 1,600 Christmas trees collected by the district council at the end of the festive season have been chipped and returned to the ground, or used to benefit a host of outdoor projects.

St Martin’s Primary School, in Cranbrook, recently took delivery of a truck of festive pine tree chippings for the upkeep of outdoor pathways, to protect tree roots, suppress weed growth, and clean-up muddy play areas.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “These chippings will now be used by the school and students in their forest school for a variety of purposes, including maintaining pathways, to protect tree roots and to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth.”

They added: “The students’ mud kitchen also received a helping of chippings to improve the ground around the playground – this will help the children to avoid getting as muddy at break times.”

The real trees – thrown out after the festive season – were collected by EDDC StreetScene workers from drop-off points across East Devon from early January.

A total of 1,699 trees were picked up 245 from Seaton, 70 in Axminster, Honiton threw out 140, Ottery 205 and Sidmouth 235.

In Budleigh Salterton EDDC picked up 188 trees, 311 from Exmouth, 200 in Cranbrook and 105 from the village of Broadclyst.

Tom Wood, EDDC StreetScene operations manager, said: “Our tree team, supported by operational teams have worked really hard to process an enormous number of Christmas trees in a short space of time.

“It’s really pleasing to see these trees being recycled and put back into the ground across the district to benefit local eco-systems and the environment.”

EDDC said the donations of wood chippings to St Martin’s Primary School was made as part of an ongoing partnership with the EDDC StreetScene team.

Chippings from trees in previous years has helped to slow spread of Ash Dieback within the school’s estate, EDDC said.

In Exmouth, the council workers stepped in to help the Rotary Club take down the town’s main Christmas tree.

A collection by the Rotary Club around the tree in the town’s Magnolia Centre raised more than £1,000 for Exmouth Open Door Centre.

The Rotary Club of Exmouth praised the ‘kindness and support’ of the EDDC StreetScene staff for helping ‘with such good grace at short notice’.

East Devon: Plans are in the pipeline for a new cycle and walk route to connect Cranbrook to Exeter city centre

It’s crazy to fine polluters £250m, says Environment Agency chief

“What he seems to have missed entirely is the fact that those penalties are not actually usable. And it seemed wacky to say that he would make the penalties weaker.” Ash Smith, Windrush Against Sewage Pollution.

Alan Lovell, new Chair Environment Agency, has previously served as the chairman of Interserve Group, a construction company, a director at a distributor of construction materials and chairman of a company selling double-glazed windows….He promised to make the agency a “little more commercial”, which he said would free up money to spend. 

Difficult to see the relevance of this CV, no background in environmental regulation. – Owl

PS Remember the days when John Varley, Clinton Devon Estates, was on both the Environment Agency and Natural England boards? He is now off both.

Adam Vaughan, Environment Editor www.thetimes.co.uk

The Environment Agency’s new chairman has criticised plans to punish water companies found to have spilled sewage by increasing penalties to £250 million.

Alan Lovell derided the number, put forward by the previous environment secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, in October, as “crazy”, “massive” and “way in excess of what’s needed”.

Lovell, who started at the regulator last September, said that he was instead negotiating with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on “a sensible number” for maximum penalties.

His comments are the first indication that the government could scrap the Liz Truss-era policy of raising the existing £250,000 cap on penalties one thousand-fold.

In his first major public speech, Lovell said that while the agency had secured £102.5 million of fines for water companies in 2021, establishing wins through the courts took years and was too slow.

Instead, he said he wanted to move towards using civil sanctions, known as variable monetary penalties. The agency can impose these itself and they require a lower burden of proof than in a criminal case.

But Lovell said that the current £250,000 cap was “unfortunately not enough to make a difference to a water company’s behaviour”. As well as raising the limit, he said he wanted to speed up the process of imposing the penalties. To date, the Environment Agency has issued no variable monetary penalties despite having had the power to do so since 2010.

Ash Smith, of the Oxfordshire-based campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, said: “What he seems to have missed entirely is the fact that those penalties are not actually usable. And it seemed wacky to say that he would make the penalties weaker.”

Speaking at a school in Andover on Monday, Lovell said that while water companies had made a “lot of mistakes” they were “trying pretty hard” to improve water quality. Water companies have been under fire in recent months over incidents such as weeks-long sewage spills in the Thames Valley.

Lovell said it had been a “terrible mistake” by Ofwat, the water industry regulator, to allow companies to pay dividends after the sector was privatised in 1989. While investment had increased initially, he said most of the period since had seen “chronic under-investment” by the nine main water companies.

Lovell said that if water firms were breaking the law and not trying to comply with it, he agreed with his predecessor, Emma Howard Boyd, who said last year that executives should be jailed over serious pollution incidents. However, Lovell said: “My personal experience is that they [water executives] have got this message.”

Lovell has previously served as the chairman of Interserve Group, a construction company, a director at a distributor of construction materials and chairman of a company selling double-glazed windows. While he has been chairman of the Consumer Council for Water, he does not have a background in environmental regulation. He promised to make the agency a “little more commercial”, which he said would free up money to spend.

The agency had received a welcome boost in the past year to its annual budget of almost £2 billion, he said. But it was still not being funded in a “long-term sustainable way” and he would take “full advantage” of the general election and public concern over pollution to lobby for more money.

Lovell made clear that about 100,000 farms in England were also in his sights, and he was hoping to curb pollution washing off their land into rivers. He said the agency, which The Times recently revealed inspected only 2 per cent of farms a year, was stepping up action and inspections against farmers. But he said: “They are hard to reach, there are so many,” and admitted that the agency was still “not fully staffed up to do it”.

The Local Plan consultation is closed, work begins behind the scenes and Paul Arnott can speak

Paul Arnott www.exmouthjournal.co.uk 

The older you get, the more you understand that to enable real change in your community, it has to be done by the book and on the record. Because if you let slip one inadvertent, tiny technical mistake, or even make an ill-chosen public utterance, you can damage your cause.

This is relevant now because East Devon District Council has just closed a two-month consultation period for its Local Plan, a document setting out where domestic and business development is permitted between the adoption of the plan, likely in 2024, and 2040.

For a council leader there are twin perils. If you speak out too vociferously prior to public consultation, a city lawyer for a disappointed developer or landowner will later go to the Inspector (who ultimately approves the plan) and cry “pre-determination” and an attempt to influence an objective consultation. At which point three years of work can be thrown out.

So, you have to keep your powder dry until the consultation is over. The other peril is that your silence can be taken for approval. Hopefully, in most quarters local people who follow district affairs will have understood my caution not to grandstand on this.

Now that the consultation is closed, I can say that I was of course very aware that a number of proposed sites in the Local Plan consultation would be contested by local communities. But these sites had been submitted by landowners and developers and it is not the role of a council to pre-determine which to include going forward to be consulted on so long as our officers recommend that they have met the basic criteria for lawful development.

I was also aware that you can’t try to dodge confronting these challenges by playing games, as the Conservatives’ at East Devon did by attempting to throw out the whole consultation process at the eleventh hour. That would only have made our precious area more vulnerable to speculative developers who could argue that as an authority we were not proceeding in a timely manner. Why would the Conservatives have wanted that, you may well ask?

However, last February our council took care to speak in strong terms directly to government about the central flaw in our national planning processes. Careful to ensure this had the formal, cross-party consent of our whole Strategic Planning Committee, we wrote in politically neutral terms to Michael Gove to challenge the Standard Method for Calculating Housing Need.

We wrote that the current housing need figure for East Devon “can only be met through harming our attractive landscape areas including two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB’s) and areas where development has been shown to have a significant detrimental impact on designated wildlife habitats, over 90% of East Devon.”

The previous Conservative administrations in East Devon had fallen under the spell of landowners and developers (one of whom now provides funding for a local MP) and had publicly proclaimed a “Build, build, build” strategy. We told Mr Gove of the consequence: the district’s number of homes built per year grew from around 700 a year less than 10 years ago to well over a 1000 in 2019.

Because of local Conservatives choices a decade ago, this unsustainably high baseline set the maths for the housing need numbers today, even though we were now entering territory in many areas of East Devon where this was highly undesirable. So, we asked Mr Gove to allocate new housing based on future needs and aspirations to protect the environment rather than based on the past trends.

We didn’t shout this from the rooftops last February; we just did it. As result, Mr Gove has called these processes in, hinting at potential reforms to number setting. He now needs to enshrine this in legislation uninfluenced by the builders’ lobbyists. We are watching very closely indeed.

Devon and Cornwall Police officer charged with rape

A Devon and Cornwall Police officer is set to appear in court over rape charges. A statement from the force said PC Kane Haywood, 29, from East Devon, has been charged with two counts of rape of a woman aged 16 years or over and sexual assault by penetration.

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com

According to a statement on the police website, the charges relate to alleged incidents in Exeter in March 2021. Haywood is due to appear at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (January 18).

PC Haywood is currently suspended from duty. A spokesperson for the force said: “A Devon and Cornwall Police officer is due to appear before Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 18 January charged with rape.

“PC Kane Haywood, aged 29, from East Devon, is charged with two counts of rape of a woman aged 16 years or over and sexual assault by penetration. The charges relate to alleged incidents in Exeter in March 2021.”

All police forces ordered to search for sex predators and domestic abusers in ranks

All police forces have been ordered to search for sexual predators and domestic abusers in their ranks, in a major review sparked by the horrific crimes of David Carrick.

Maybe Devon and Cornwall Police also need to review their handling of sexual predators cases outside the force. For example their early reluctance to pursue the John Humphreys paedophile case. “Nothing to be seen here”. DCC and EDDC have their inquiries underway but nothing from the police. – Owl

Lizzie Dearden www.independent.co.uk

It comes after a similar check by the Metropolitan Police found more than 1,000 officers and staff who have had complaints against them in the past decade but remain in service.

The review across England and Wales was announced ahead of a meeting between the prime minister and commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, where the government said Rishi Sunak would “make clear we must work together to root out the misogyny and predatory behaviour within the police’s ranks to restore public confidence”.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is writing to all forces in England and Wales to check their officers and staff against national police databases.

The Home Office said the search would “help identify anyone who has slipped through the net before vetting standards were toughened and ensure those who are unfit to serve can be rooted out”.

Vetting and monitoring processes for police officers are under intense scrutiny after it emerged that Carrick was let into the Metropolitan Police months after the force investigated him for harassing a former partner.

He was allowed to remain in Britain’s largest force for 20 years despite involvement in at least nine incidents, including domestic abuse and violence, as he was never prosecuted and Scotland Yard repeatedly decided Carrick had “no case to answer” for disciplinary proceedings.

All 49 offences, including 24 rapes, he has now admitted perpetrating against 12 women over 17 years took place during his career in the Metropolitan Police.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the NPCC, said: “The confidence of women and girls in London and across the country in the police has been damaged further by the details of David Carrick’s decades long violent and degrading abuse of women and the police failures to spot and stop him.

“Chief constables are rooting abusers and those who betray our standards out of policing.

“We will be asking all police forces to further check their officers and staff against national police databases. This will help identify anyone who has slipped through the net before vetting standards were toughened and remove those who are unfit to serve.”

Details of the review, how it will be carried out and in what timescale are still being formulated.

The home secretary has also asked the College of Policing, which governs police training and standards in England and Wales, to strengthen the statutory code of practice for police vetting and make the obligations all forces must legally follow stricter and clearer.

Suella Braverman said: “Carrick’s sickening crimes are a stain on the police and he should never have been allowed to remain as an officer for so long.

“We are taking immediate steps to ensure predatory individuals are not only rooted out of the force, but that vetting and standards are strengthened to ensure they cannot join the police in the first place.”

The home secretary previously announced a review of the police disciplinary process, which will consider public calls made by commissioner Sir Mark Rowley to give more power to chief constables to govern who serves in their forces.

Ms Braverman told MPs on Tuesday: “I want to make sure we have a fair and effective system of removing those officers who are simply not fit to serve.”

Carrick’s case will also be looked at as part of the ongoing inquiry into police vetting and wider issues by Lady Elish Angiolini, which was started after the 2021 murder of Sarah Everard.

A proposed terms of reference states that the inquiry will question whether processes around recruitment and vetting do enough to identify those who are not fit to serve, investigate the extent of “misogynistic and predatory behaviour” in police culture and the suitability of current risk management.

Several previous watchdog inspections and reports have identified issues with vetting and warned that rapists, domestic abusers and sex predators were being allowed to join and remain in policing.

Following calls from HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for urgent action on recommendations that were made last year, the government commissioned a “rapid review” of police forces’ responses.

“Despite repeated warnings – including several from us – not enough has been done to improve standards and stamp out misogyny and predatory behaviour in policing,” Andy Cooke had said. “It is vital that the police act on our recommendations. They simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Camping ban millionaire helped bankroll MP’s campaign

He who pays the piper…….! – Owl

A Devon MP whose General Election campaign was partly bankrolled by the landowner who won a controversial ban on wild camping on Dartmoor has said he won’t be drawn into the row. But South Devon MP Anthony Mangnall has pledged to lobby for more cash from the Government to promote the “extraordinary” countryside of Devon.

Guy Henderson www.devonlive.com

The official Parliamentary Register of Members’ Financial interests reveals that land owner and hedge fund manager Alexander Darwall gave £5,000 to the campaign fund that backed Mr Mangnall’s election to the Totnes seat in December 2019. Mr Mangnall points out the money went to the Totnes Conservative Association and not to him personally.

Mr Darwall is reported to have given substantial financial backing – to the tune of £90,000 – to the UK Independence Party and the ‘Leave’ Brexit campaign in the past. He is a millionaire who owns several large areas of land across the UK including the 4,000-acre Blachford Estate near Ivybridge on the southern fringes of Dartmoor, which offers pheasant shooting and deer stalking for well-heeled visitors.

Mr Darwall is in the headlines after he challenged the legal basis permitting wild camping on Dartmoor. He and wife Diana challenged the claim the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 permitted wild camping, saying the legislation only related to recreation “on the move”.

They questioned the legal foundation of the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s bylaws which permit responsible backpack camping – allowing, for example, hikers to pitch a tent, which they must transport on foot, for up to two nights. They argued that some wild campers on their land caused problems to livestock and the environment.

Tiverton High School Ten Tors 2022

Sir Julian Flaux, the Chancellor of the High Court, agreed and found the act did not give the public any right to make camp overnight on Dartmoor common land, and that this required the consent of the land owner. The judgment sent shockwaves through the countryside and cast doubts on the future of events like the Ten Tors Expedition and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which both involve young people camping out on the moors.

A statement on the Blachford Estate website explains: “We are grateful to the High Court for its thoroughness in clarifying the matter. We now hope to engage with the Dartmoor National Park Authority, so we can improve outcomes on the ground. Working together, we can improve conservation of the Dartmoor commons and improve the experience for those enjoying the Commons legitimately.

“Our intention was not to ban camping on Dartmoor, but to clarify the law on this matter. We have always wanted to work with the DNPA on this issue and the recent court ruling now affords us that opportunity. We are hoping to come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement in the near future.”

Mr Mangnall said he was “100% supportive” of the right to roam across national parks, and fully appreciated the benefits of outdoor exercise. He went on: “I have spent quite some time as the MP for Totnes working on how we can keep public footpaths up to scratch, and even more time working on how we can improve outdoor learning, including ensuring that people are able to make use of what is on their doorstep.

“Regarding the High Court’s decision about wild camping, I do not believe it is right for a MP to second guess legal experts, especially given the independence of the courts. However, it is clear the decision is a huge disappointment to many people, both locally and nationally.

“Please note, there is no question as to the public’s right to walk and ride on the commons, and everyone may continue to do so.

“Regarding the donation Mr Darwall gave to the Totnes Conservative Association, I should make it clear that this money did not go to me personally but to my association. That donation was given in late 2019 and no further donations have been made. This donation was in line with the rules set out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

“Our countryside is of great importance and over the coming days, I will be working to see how we might be able to secure extra funding from central Government to attract more people to this extraordinary part of Devon.”