Raw sewage being dumped in environment secretary Therese Coffey’s own constituency

The Tories’ failure to tackle raw sewage dumping has been laid bare by figures showing Therese Coffey had almost 1,000 spills in her own constituency last year alone.

How about a selfie with the Marigolds? – Owl

Archie Mitchell www.independent.co.uk

Ms Coffey is one of seven Conservatives to have run the department since 2015 – including Liz Truss, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and George Eustice – whose constituencies saw more than 15,000 spills in total in 2022.

Her Suffolk Coastal constituency was hit by 982 raw sewage spills in the year, according to analysis by the Liberal Democrats.

The finding follows calls for her to resign this week after figures showed there were more than 300,000 sewage spills around the UK in 2022. Ms Coffey was accused of a “complete abdication of duty” after claiming she could not end the scandal of raw sewage dumping “overnight”.

But the figures revealed how a succession of Tory environment ministers since 2015 have failed to get to grips with the issue, leading to their own constituencies being blighted by sewage dumping.

They showed Mr Eustice’s Camborne and Redruth constituency saw 11,292 raw sewage spills last year. He served as the environment secretary under Boris Johnson between 2020 and 2022.

Ms Leadsom, who ran the department between 2016 and 2017, represents South Northamptonshire. Her constituency was hit by 1,890 sewage spills in 2022. Her predecessor Ms Truss had 597 sewage spills in her South West Norfolk constituency last year.

And Mr Gove, who was environment secretary from 2017 to 2019, had 70 spillages in Surrey Heath, where he has been the MP since 2005.

In total last year, the constituencies of the last seven Tory environment secretaries had 15,326 raw sewage spills – with sewage being dumped for a total of 103,235 hours.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Tim Farron said: “Successive Conservative environment ministers have done nothing to tackle the scourge of filthy sewage being dumped into our rivers and beaches. Now their own local communities are paying the price for this rotten legacy.

“Conservative MPs are taking the British public for fools by rehashing old announcements on wet wipes from years ago. It is laughable that three separate Conservative Environment Secretaries have all promised the same thing with no action taken.

“The Conservative Party is facing a massive backlash among rural and coastal communities who are furious about this sewage scandal.”

On Tuesday Rishi Sunak set out a new clean water plan with a promise of stronger regulation and tougher enforcement for those who pollute rivers, lakes and beaches.

Ms Coffey – who has said companies could face unlimited penalties for dumping raw sewage – said over £1.6bn of investment to boost water quality would be brought forward.

The plan includes a consultation on a ban of plastic wet wipes, and restrictions on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in textiles, cleaning products, paints and varnishes.

That came as it emerged that water companies in England dumped sewage onto England’s “blue flag” beaches – those deemed safe and environmentally friendly – a staggering 1,504 times last year.

Separate figures showed the top five beaches which faced the most sewage dumping:

  1. Blackpool Sands Beach, Stoke Fleming, Devon – 63 spills, totalling 1,014 hours
  2. Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon – 79 spills, 946 hours
  3. Beachlands Beach, Hayling Island, Hampshire – 102 spills, 793 hours
  4. Sidmouth Town Beach, Sidmouth, Devon – 59 spills, 631 hours
  5. Exmouth Beach, Exmouth, Devon – 39 spills, 470 hours

Mr Eustice told The Independent: “On becoming Secretary of State in 2020 I took immediate action to prioritise storm overflows in Ofwat’s pricing decisions, introduced new requirements for water quality in the Environment Act and put in place a £56bn package of investment through the plan for water last July.”

One thought on “Raw sewage being dumped in environment secretary Therese Coffey’s own constituency

  1. It would be very interesting to see a report in here about who has instigated the work on sewage spillages in Sidmouth. Simon Jupp seems very keen to suggest it has all been about him but I think we all know that isn’t true. The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group (River volunteers) backed by the town council and EDDC councillors have been pushing hard and meeting with SWW, and producing excellent data on an area where SWW data was woeful and inaccurate.

    A bit of an exposé about how much money is actually going to be invested, and how much has been promised by successive environment ministers would also be interesting,

    Sewage should be enough for anybody to not vote for the tories in this election. Decades of underinvestment and basically asset-stripping has left our water industry in a shameful situation and we are now literally seeing and smelling the result.


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