Home Local News County Cllr calls on Government to “clean up” our polluted waterways

County Cllr calls on Government to “clean up” our polluted waterways

cllr gibson
Cllr Julie Gibson

County Cllr Julie Gibson, the Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change has called on the Government to act against private water companies as figures released from the Environment Agency show raw discharges were sent into English rivers 825 times a day last year. Private water companies have been consistently accused of failing to act, with the agency admitting there were more than 300,000 spillages into rivers and coastal areas in 2022, lasting for more than 1.75m hours.

Cllr Gibson said: “This is a disgrace. Under the Conservatives, water companies are turning Britain’s waterways into an open sewer. In its recent Green Paper, the Conservative Government set out targets to tackle this but failed to say on how it would deliver on these targets or how it would tackle the water companies’ failure to act. We are in a dirty water emergency and we have public health bosses saying that such discharges increase the risk of significant infections including antibiotic resistant bacteria and what action do we get from the Government – nothing.

She continued: “According to 2021 data, from the Rivers Trust the worst area for sewage into rivers in central Lancashire was Chorley, where 4,014 spills were recorded, with sewage pouring into water courses for 26,625 hours. In Preston there were 2,200 spills over 12,394 hours and in South Ribble there were 1,246 spills over 6,319 hours. The industry holds its hands up but only after paying £63bn in dividends to shareholders. And their plans now? To borrow the money to fix the problem over the next decade which will be added to our household bills at a time when the cost of living is rocketing.

Cllr Gibson said: “Recently we have enjoyed some of the most beautiful weather and it is undoubtedly a time when many of us will head to the seaside. Labour forced a vote in Parliament to end sewage discharge into our rivers, lakes, and seas yet the Tories voted against it. We need to see mandatory monitoring of all sewage outlets, introduction of automatic fines for discharges and a promise that water bosses who routinely and systematically break the rules will be held to account and we will not get that from this Tory Government. We need to be certain that our rivers, lakes, and seas are safe – only Labour can promise us that.”

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