Cleaning up Cumbria’s rivers and lakes is one of MP for Penrith and The Border, Dr Neil Hudson’s top priorities and he is encouraged by the Government’s unprecedented plans to transform the nation’s sewage system.
With just one week left of the Government’s Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan consultation, the Cumbrian MP is making sure people have their voices heard on the largest investment and delivery programme to tackle storm sewage discharge in UK history.
For the first time ever, a Government has pledged to overhaul our Victorian sewage systems and is taking action on water companies. The Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan places new legally binding targets to reduce pollution from water companies and eliminate storm overflows’ harm to the environment.
Dr Hudson has recently raised questions in the House of Commons on this issue in Cumbria to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment, Rebecca Pow. In response, he was pleased to hear the Environment Agency has already been working closely with United Utilities along the River Petteril, intervening on pollution from wastewater and agriculture.
On top of this, the Government has doubled investment in the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme to £30 million to help reduce impacts from agriculture, and the Environment Agency is hiring 50 more inspectors to ensure action is taken against non-compliance.
This follows, Dr Hudson’s tough questioning on the EFRA Select Committee of Iain Coucher, the prospective boss of water regulator Ofwat, about how he could hold water companies to account. Asking if he had the teeth to make sure water companies comply with new legislation, Dr Hudson also brought up the issue of bonuses for polluters and better ways of testing water quality.
Dr Neil Hudson said:
“As I have said time and again, the amount of sewage in our waterways is unacceptable so I’m really encouraged that this Government is the first to take such far-ranging proactive measures.
“Here in Penrith and The Border we are immensely lucky to have such beautiful waterways as the Eden and Lune on our doorsteps, but we must ensure we leave them in a better state for future generations.
“That’s why putting in a long-term plan to reduce the harmful effects of pollution is so crucial. For too long water companies have been allowed to get away with pumping sewage into our ecosystems while dividends and bonuses have remained high.
“This is a once in a generation chance to have your voice heard and make sure our rivers and lakes can be cleaner for years to come.”
Rebecca Pow said:
“We have also launched our consultation on the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan, which proposes that water companies must completely eliminate all ecological harm to the environment from storm sewage discharges.
“The plan will revolutionise how water companies tackle sewage discharges and will represent the largest investment and delivery programme in tackling storm sewage discharges in history.”
To reply to the consultation by 12th May, visit: consult.defra.gov.uk/water-industry/storm-overflows-discharge-reduction-plan/consultation/subpage.2022-03-30.7966288936/