Bexhill and Battle constituency MP, Huw Merriman, has welcomed a new legal duty which will require water companies to tackle sewage discharges into streams, rivers and the sea in times of heavy rainfall.
The MP was one of 22 Conservative MPs who last week voted against a Government bill which Mr Merriman described as “not enough” to force water and sewerage companies to tackle the issue. Speaking to the BBC the MP said “To have sewage being discharged into waterways, overflowing onto our streets and into the sea when there is too much rain is just absolutely shocking. We’re talking about decades of investment and it’s got to happen.”
The MP voted for an amendment to the Bill which would have created a legal duty on the industry to take reasonable steps to eradicate discharges. This week, the Government agreed to incorporate the tougher measures with a requirement for a ‘progressive reduction’.
Speaking after the Government rethink, Mr Merriman said ‘I am delighted that we will now have a tough set of reduction measures, enforced with a legal duty to action. For too long, waterways and our seas have had sewage discharged into them and our homes and streets experience sewage overflow. It’s a diabolical situation and it’s not a solution to the more frequent heavy rainfall we have recently been experiencing. More investment to increase capacity in the waste water system is urgently needed to prevent this disgusting pollution of our water and prevent sewerage overflowing from manholes in times of heavy rain. I will now campaign to ensure that Southern Water’s sewerage discharge pipes are removed from our sea.’
The Government’s Environment Bill is now expected to become law. Mr Merriman has written to the Chief Executive of Southern Water for a timetable for action.