Tory MPs have voted down a bid by Labour to stop sewage being dumped into rivers and the sea.
Surprise, surprise! – Owl
Kevin Schofield www.huffingtonpost.co.uk
The party wanted to introduce a new law bringing in legally binding targets and automatic fines for water companies guilty of the disgusting practice.
But following a three-hour debate, MPs voted 290 to 198 to kill off a Labour motion which would have given them party parliamentary time to bring in the legislation.
In a separate development, the government today announced its own plans for legally binding targets to cut sewage discharges.
Environment secretary Therese Coffey said: “A clear, credible and costed legally binding target will add to our transparent and determined approach to solve this issue, whilst keeping consumer bills low.”
Labour’s Water Quality (Sewage Discharge) Bill would require water companies to reduce discharges from storm overflows by 90% by the end of 2030 and impose automatic financial penalties for sewage dumping.
Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon told MPs the plans “would finally see an end to the Tory sewage scandal”.
He said: “The reason we’re here today is because the country we love and the quality of life for millions of working people is being treated with utter contempt, dumped on with raw human sewage, dumped on on an industrial scale, and dumped on with at least 1.5 million sewage dumps last year alone.
“Dumped on for a total of 11 million running hours, that’s a sewage dump every two and a half minutes.”
But Therese Coffey said Labour’s bill was “pointless”.
She said: “We already have a target for reduction in sewage discharges which we will put into law, we’ve already consulted to remove caps on financial penalties and we’ve already undertaken an assessment of sewage discharges – but unlike the opposition we have a credible, costed plan to stop the scourge of sewage.”
Following the vote, Lib Dem environment spokesperson Tim Farron said: “It is scandalous that Conservative MPs have blocked the Sewage Discharge Bill.
“This is a new low for Conservative MPs who simply don’t care about the sewage crisis.
“They would rather these water firms rake in millions in profits whilst we all swim in sewage. Frankly, the whole thing stinks.”
Labour is determined to make the sewage problem a major issue in next month’s local elections.
In their latest Twitter attack ad, the party said: “Do you think it’s right to allow raw sewage to be dumped into our rivers and beaches 800 times a day? Rishi Sunak does.”