Sewage vote: How our Gedling borough MPs voted as amendment to clamp down on sewage-dumping is rejected

An amendment proposed to the Environment Bill would have legally compelled water companies to reduce their discharge of raw sewage into rivers and seas.

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MPs based across Gedling borough this week voted on amending a bill that currently allows raw sewage to be discharged into rivers and seas.

An amendment proposed to the Environment Bill would have legally compelled water companies to reduce their discharge of raw sewage into rivers and seas.

The bill, intended to revamp the UK’s environmental regulations post Brexit, currently allows raw sewage to be discharged into the country’s waterways.

Data from the Environment Agency shows that raw sewage was dumped into British waters over than 400,000 times in 2020.

George Eustice, the environment secretary, recommended that MPs reject the proposal – and it was voted down on Wednesday night.

PICTURED: River Trent
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The amendment was indeed defeated – by a margin of 268 MPs to 204.

Gedling MP Tom Randall and Sherwood MP Mark Spencer voted against making the amendment.

Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome voted for the Lords amendment.

You can read the full results HERE

Hugo Tagholm, a spokesperson for the Surfers Against Sewage organisation, said the Tories’ opposition to the amendment “beggars belief”, stating:

“Why wouldn’t they want water companies to have a legal obligation not to pollute our rivers and ocean with sewage, for example?

“It beggars belief and hardly shows a commitment to be the greenest government ever.

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“It’s time for more ambitious thinking and law that builds protected nature back into public ownership rather than leaving it to the ravages of shareholder interests.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. I am intrigued and fascinated by the reasons to allow raw sewage to be put in our rivers. I am sure there must be something I am missing and would appreciate if anyone can enlighten me on why our MPs voted to allow this.

    • Andrew, there are a couple of reasons to allow it.

      1. Some sewers are combined, which means sewage and rainwater. So when we get heavy rain the sewers can’t take the capacity. To prevent properties flooding or roads flooding there is a CSO (combined sewer overflow) which will allow the flow to enter rivers or streams.

      2. Sewage works have storm tanks which hold excess flow through the site. After a prolonged period of time the water can over top into the watercourse. This flow should be cleaner as point 1 above as screening of rags and other objects will have been removed.

      There will be always more water than can be treated at times, it’s just a matter of where the overflow will be.

    • Andrew, the comment by James is correct but that does not preclude the amendment. CSO’s will always be needed until all systems are separate (which is unlikely due to the high cost) but they should be consented by the regulator. The need for consent takes away the freedom from the water companies to do their own thing and to be the arbiter of what is reasonable.

  2. Having listened to the podcast, The briefing room, on the state of our rivers, i cannot understand why anyone would vote against any move towards cleaning them up

  3. Andrew, there are a couple of reasons to allow it.

    1. Some sewers are combined, which means sewage and rainwater. So when we get heavy rain the sewers can’t take the capacity. To prevent properties flooding or roads flooding there is a CSO (combined sewer overflow) which will allow the flow to enter rivers or streams.

    2. Sewage works have storm tanks which hold excess flow through the site. After a prolonged period of time the water can over top into the watercourse. This flow should be cleaner as point 1 above as screening of rags and other objects will have been removed.

    There will be always more water than can be treated at times, it’s just a matter of where the overflow will be.

  4. Thanks James, that clarifies things well. Basically, in exceptionally heavy rain, it has to happen, but I guess at least it will be more dilute and quicker flowing dispersing it well. Combined with Tom Randall’s explanation, I understand why the vote went the way it did.

  5. Andrew, the comment by James is correct but that does not preclude the amendment. CSO’s will always be needed until all systems are separate (which is unlikely due to the high cost) but they should be consented by the regulator. The need for consent takes away the freedom from the water companies to do their own thing and to be the arbiter of what is reasonable.

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