Businesses and agencies pumping raw and untreated sewage into Gedling’s waters and rivers will be asked “challenging questions” by a new council group set up to tackle the issue.
Gedling Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee has approved the new group, which will complete a “thorough review” of any sewage being discharged into the River Trent and local waterways.
The move follows a motion approved at the authority’s full council meeting in November last year, which came in response to the Government’s controversial Environment Bill.
The bill, ratified by Parliament last year, led to anger from opposition and local leaders after 268 MPs voted down an amendment to fine water companies and agencies for pumping sewage into rivers and the sea.
However, Sherwood MP Mark Spencer and Gedling MP Tom Randall, two Conservative MPs who both voted down the amendment, said the act will produce a statutory plan to reduce discharges and call on agencies to be more transparent.
The November motion, put forward by Labour councillors, pushed for water companies to take “all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows”.
It also aimed to eliminate the practice of discharging raw sewage into English rivers, waterways and oceans, rather than simply reducing the amount.
And the authority agreed to engage with agencies including Severn Trent Water, the Environment Agency, Nottinghamshire County Council and the Government to stop the discharge of sewage into waters and rivers.
The approved motion also called on the council’s overview and scrutiny committee to set up the all-councillor working group, which will monitor the issue and raise questions with environmental agencies.
Now the authority has made this group a reality, with documents confirming it will work with organisations including The Rivers Trust to “apply pressure” to leading organisations.
The documents add the group will work with organisations locally to “prevent any impact on the environment”.
Councillor Rachael Ellis (Lab), who represents Bestwood St Albans, welcomed the working group being set up and said it will allow members to ask challenging questions.
Speaking during the meeting this week, she said: “I was really pleased to see this report and very much welcome it.
“It opens the door for us to ask some quite challenging questions, I hope, and I would like to support creating a working group with quite a wide-ranging remit.”
Cllr Liz Clunie (Lab), chair of the overview and scrutiny committee, agreed there are “quite a few things” the working group will assess.
Cllr Clunie, who represents the Cavendish ward, said: “We don’t have to spell out the actual, direct remit right now – that would come out from the scope of the group.
“But there are probably quite a few things we could think about.”
And Cllr Michael Boyle (Lab), the councillor who submitted the initial motion to November’s full council, welcomed the issue being looked into “in detail”.
Cllr Boyle, who represents the Plains ward, added: “I welcome this and the fact we’re looking into this in detail, as we called for at full council.”
The all-councillor group will now be set up by the committee, with Cllr Clunie indicating she would look to also chair the working group.
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