The discharge of untreated sewage into inland waters is a serious matter for our environment and communities and something we should all be worried about.
I am aware that, per year, there are up to 40 hours of monitored storm overflows in Islington North which discharge raw sewage into rivers – putting the health of my constituents at risk and damaging the environment.
I totally support the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill, which would require companies to set out plans to reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows over time. This would mean that companies would have to report publicly on the discharge of sewage from combined sewer overflows. The Bill also seeks to drive up standards in other ways.
Sadly, the Government defeated a Lords amendment (45) on the 8 November that would have ensured that Water companies were compelled to reduce sewage overspills and to report on that reduction. Water companies are now only asked to reduce sewage pollution without any enforcement. It is not enough, and I’m aware that campaigning organisations such as Surfers against Sewage are active on this meanwhile.
I was elected on a manifesto that committed to bringing water back into democratic public ownership. So, I think we should take the spirit of the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill forward, and go further, by putting water back under public ownership.