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Swim England backs last-ditch plea to MPs in bid to help protect country’s open water

Swim England is one of several organisations making a last-ditch plea to MPs in a bid to help reduce the harm caused to the country’s open water by sewage discharges.

The Environment Bill currently contains a clause which places a legal duty on water companies to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows.

However, that amendment will be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday 20 October and there is a possibility it could be removed from the Bill.

Now Swim England and other organisations which make up the #EndSewagePollution coalition are urging people to write to their MP asking them to support the amendment so it has the best chance of staying in the Bill.

In 2020 there were more than 400,000 discharges of untreated sewage into UK rivers and only 14 per cent of the country’s rivers are in a ‘good’ ecological condition.

The Government has already placed new reporting duties on water companies, specifically around the requirements:

  • to report within an hour of a sewage overflow starting and ending;
  • to monitor water quality up and downstream of sewage overflows and treatment works; and
  • for Government to prepare a report on how to eliminate sewage discharges.

Strength of feeling

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, encouraged people to contact their MP before Wednesday’s debate.

She said: “With your support so far, we have seen positive amendments made by the Government with regards to reporting duties on water companies.

“It’s vitally important in the fight for cleaner open water that the changes to clause 80 of the Bill, which would place a legal duty on water companies to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows, remains in The Environment Bill.

“Amendment 60 to Clause 80 was passed in the Lords and as part of the #EndSewagePollution coalition, we are joining with Surfers Against Sewage and other organisations to encourage MPs to support this amendment in the Commons to give it the best chance of staying in the Bill.

“By acting now, we can show MPs the real strength of feeling around this issue.”

People can find out more and contact their MP through the Surfers Against Sewage website.