Sewage in rivers and environmental protection

Yesterday the House of Commons rejected some key amendments to the Environment Bill made by the House of Lords. 

One of the amendments rejected was a legal duty on water companies to reduce sewage damage to rivers. 
Some of the water company CEO’s gave evidence to the Parliamentary Enquiry on Water Quality in Rivers on 13 October. 
The rejection of the amendment to the Environment Bill is hugely disappointing given the amount of public interest in this topic, with campaigning, media coverage, petitions and (apparent) support from the Government and Defra for example, in July .Minister Rebecca Pow said:

Water companies have environmental responsibilities and they must realise them. They have a legal duty to avoid pollution to our rivers and other waterways.

This report which spans the last 12 months makes for extremely disappointing reading. Even the industry-leading water companies have more work to do, especially on the use of storm overflows.

Getting the basics right is critical for water companies and then they need to go further in playing their part in achieving a higher level of ambition for our precious water environment. On these grounds I will not hesitate to set higher expectations for both water companies and regulators to ensure a level of service that the people of this country and the environment deserve.’

If new powers are not included in the Environment Bill, perhaps the Government will ensure that existing legislation to prevent sewage pollution in our rivers is properly enforced?

Another rejected amendment concerned the new Office for Environmental Protection. The amendment was aimed at strengthening the OEP’s powers and independence. In many ways this is a more crucial amendment with much wider impact for the future protection of our environment.

CSO Jonny comp