‘I have never and will never ‘vote to dump sewage’’, says Hastings and Rye MP

Hastings and Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart voted for the Government’s amendment to the Environment Bill, which aims to cut the dumping of raw sewage into waterways.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 10:47 am
Hastings and Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart in Parliament SUS-211018-162700001

She was one of 283 MPs to back the amendment in the Commons yesterday (Monday, November 8).

MPs voted for a second time on the Environment Bill this week following a fierce public backlash last month.

In October, the Duke of Wellington put forward an amendment to the Government’s Environment Bill, which suggested putting a legal duty on water companies not to dump raw sewage into waterways.

But when the proposal was voted on by MPs in the Commons last month, it lost by 265 votes to 202.

The Duke of Wellington put forward the amendment again when the legislation returned to the House of Lords.

The Government then promised a new legal duty would be placed directly on water companies to make a ‘progressive reduction’ in sewage dumped into waterways.

Mrs Hart said: “I have received a significant number of emails from constituents on this matter.

“I am very concerned about the misinformation spread on social media in recent weeks. I have never and will never ‘vote to dump sewage’ in our watercourses and seas.

“The Government amendment will require water companies to reduce the impact of sewage discharges in rivers on environment and public health. This will work, contrary to some misleading campaigns, as it goes hand in hand with existing provisions within the Environment Bill.

“The Government’s amendment places a much greater duty on water companies to clean up their act and reduce impact of sewage discharges in rivers on environment and public health.

“We cannot fix 60 years of under-investment overnight with blanket ban on sewage discharges. This would be unrealistic and would cause sewage to back up into people’s homes, on our streets and pavements.

“Misleading claims that the Government amendment will weaken existing legislation is simply not true; it will strengthen it.

“The Government amendment ensures that water companies must produce a Drainage & Sewerage Management Plan every five years, to set how reduction in sewage discharges will be achieved and funded. DEFRA will give improved strategic guidance to OFWAT by January 22 to require increased spending on water treatment over the next five year Pricing Period (2025-2029).

“If water company plans are not good enough, the Government will force them to strengthen their plans.

“Since 1991, water companies have had a duty to treat sewage ‘effectually’, in other words, to completely manage its disposal in the intended way.

“The Government amendment does not replace or override this duty, it strengthens such duty. Furthermore because the Environment Agency and OFWAT have failed to use their powers to enforce those duties over the last 30 years, the Government amendment ensures this will be enforced.

“After years of successive governments avoiding this issue, I am really proud that it is this Conservative Government which is tackling it. Our Environment Bill is a game changer on so many levels.”