Worksop Labour councillors call for more action to reduce "sickening level" of sewage dumped in waterways despite tougher legal restrictions
Labour councillors in Worksop have called on the Government and the Bassetlaw MP to do more to reduce the “sickening level” of sewage dumped into local waterways.
They said new analysis of Rivers Trust research shows that across Bassetlaw there have been 24 storm overflows and 813 spills of treated and untreated sewage lasting 10,216 hours over the last year.
It comes as members of the House of Commons and Lords voted this week in favour of introducing tougher legal restrictions on the practice of releasing untreated waste into waterways via storm overflows and follows a public outcry when Tory MPs voted against stronger controls last month.
Water companies will be required to make a "progressive reduction" in dumping raw sewage into waterways under the Government' s proposal and places a “direct legal duty” upon them.
Councillor John Shephard, district councillor for the Worksop south east ward, said the figures were “utterly revolting.”
"Sewage is being pumped into local waterways across Bassetlaw for thousands of hours a year,” he said.
"This has to stop, it’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for local families, and frankly it’s completely unacceptable.”
He added: “After 11 years in power this is the state the Conservatives have left us in. Britain is better than this. It’s time for a change.”
Bassetlaw MP, Brendan Clarke-Smith said the amount of sewage discharge by water companies “is not acceptable” and he wanted to see the “situation drastically improved.”
“We have very ageing sewage infrastructure in this country and unfortunately “storm overflows” have always been part of managing the process so that sewage does not back up into people’s houses or through street drains,” he said.
"This is not new, but we all want to see that situation drastically improved, and this Act is a huge step forward.
“This government is the first to set out an expectation that water companies must take steps to significantly reduce storm overflows.
"The Environment Act will allow us to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.
“The amount of sewage discharge by water companies into our rivers is not acceptable.
"We have made it crystal clear to water companies that they must significantly reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows as a priority.
"If we do not start to see significant improvements, we will not hesitate to take action through a swathe of new measures directly on water companies in the Environment Act.
He added: “None of us voted to allow water companies to pump sewage into our rivers as some campaigns have misrepresented in recent days.
"We actually voted in favour of a package of measures to reduce harms from storm overflows.”
He added: “Replacing our entire sewage system, which has been in place since Victorian times, would cost billions and mean working people paying thousands of pounds extra in water bills.
"If they (Labour party) wanted to demonstrate their environmental credentials then I would also ask why they voted against declaring a climate emergency at their council meeting recently.”