Solent Protection Society is extremely disappointed at the actions taken by the Government in voting against the House of Lords amendment to the Environment Bill. This was in direct contravention to a statement given last March that promised “Measures to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows will be put into law, the government confirmed today (Monday 29 March), as part of an ambitious agenda to build back greener from the pandemic.”
It was also stated that reducing the reliance of water companies on storm overflows is key to cutting pollution in waterways. Earlier this year, following the introduction of his Private Member’s Bill in 2020, the Government announced it was working with Philip Dunne MP on shared ambitions to tackle high levels of sewage in our rivers.
It was said that there would be three key duties to oversee some of the changes needed to improve our water environment:
a duty on government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows;
a duty on government to report to Parliament on progress on implementing the plan
a duty on water companies to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis.
The Solent Protection Society understands that the Government promised consultation to examine potential options for ways to eliminate harm from storm overflows. These were expected to be taken forward later this year.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:
“Putting new commitments to improve our rivers into law is an important step forward to cut down the water sector’s reliance on storm overflows.
This step is one of many – but an important one nonetheless – to provide greater protection for our water environment and the wildlife that relies on it.
I would like to thank Philip Dunne for his commitment to championing this vital cause as we continue to work with him and others to make real progress in this area.”
Despite all of these promises, only one of the local Solent area Members of Parliament voted to support the amendment and this was also after letters of support were sent to Solent Protection for the Rt Hon Philip Dunn’s Sewage Bill.
The Solent Protection Society will now be joining other groups in lobbying local Members of Parliament to encourage support for additional amendments to control the release of untreated liquid waste.
See the Environment Agency blog here for their reaction.