MPs urged to secure ‘a pathway out of pollution’ in response to weakened government amendment on sewage discharges

The national groups fighting sewage pollution have branded today’s government amendment on sewage discharges as weak and open to such broad interpretation that it risks letting water companies off the hook.

In a briefing to MPs prepared by the Angling Trust, Rivers Trust, Salmon & Trout Conservation and Surfers Against Sewage they say:

“Unfortunately the wording of the government’s new amendment is weaker with too much room for broad interpretation and simply does not go far enough – and in the little time that has been made available for scrutiny, legal commentators have already highlighted significant loopholes. At a time when public trust in politicians has once again been shaken we hope that MPs will stand firm and insist on clarity and action by Ministers to create a pathway out of pollution.

We cannot accept for our rivers and seas to continue to be treated like an open sewer by water companies. Last year saw a record 400,000 releases of untreated sewage. This has to stop.”

Martin Salter, Head of Policy at the Angling Trust added:

“We would have much preferred the Duke of Wellington’s amendment, as we were promised, but the parliamentary arithmetic means that the government’s new, watered down amendment is likely to pass. However, this must not be without challenge on the floor of the Commons. Without regulation, investment and enforcement anything agreed by parliament today will not yield the scale or pace of change that the public expects and our environment so desperately needs.

“We need MPs to get commitments from Ministers on enforcement and regulation by OFWAT and the Environment Agency, on-going parliamentary scrutiny and increased investment in our creaking and leaking sewerage infrastructure which the Government now admits is no longer fit for purpose. Without these very little will change.”

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