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Swim England welcomes Government commitment to water pollution measures

Swim England has welcomed additional measures being introduced by the Government to help tackle water pollution in the country’s rivers.

The Environment Bill was debated in Parliament again today, with the Government reiterating its commitment to amending the Bill with a particular focus on storm overflows and sewage pollution.

The amendments promised by the Government will see the Environment Bill include legal duties to prevent sewage discharge into open water.

The amendments include:

  • a duty on government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows;
  • a duty on government to report to Parliament on progress on implementing the plan; and
  • a duty on water companies to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis.

Swim England, as part of the #EndSewagePollution coalition, has been campaigning for these changes – and recently launched an open water pledge calling for cleaner waters, better access and increased safety for open water swimmers.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “This is a welcome step from the Government.

“The Environment Bill is an opportunity to improve the quality of our waterways for the benefit of local wildlife, the environment, outdoor swimmers and other users up and down the country.

“Ensuring better access to information and greater accountability on this issue is an important and welcome first step on this journey, enabling swimmers to make more informed decisions about where they want to swim.

“Better information and plans are all well and good and are certainly positive steps.

“However, they alone will not solve the problem of sewage pollution in our rivers and waterways.

“We will be pushing for further amendments when the Bill comes before the House of Lords after the upcoming parliamentary break.”