On Wednesday 20th October, the Government voted down an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have placed a legal duty on water companies to reduce their discharge of raw sewage into rivers.
The amendment would have required water companies to “take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows”.
As reported yesterday by Love Salisbury, Salisbury’s MP, John Glen, along with 265 Conservative MPs, voted down the Lords amendment. This caused local residents to take to social media to express their disappointment in the decision.
Speaking to Love Salisbury, John Glen explained his reasons for voting down the amendment. He said:
“I am happy to address the misconceptions around the recent vote on sewage discharge.
“I voted in favour of the government’s bill, which legislates to massively reduce discharge into rivers and to place substantial new duties on water companies to behave in an environmentally responsible way.
“I voted against the 9th Duke of Wellington’s amendment banning all discharge outright, because of the environmentally catastrophic unintended real world consequences it would have.
“On rare occasions, heavy rain causes the sewer system to flood. On those occasions, without controlled discharge, sewage would rise up through the manhole covers in our roads and gardens and flow through our streets and homes – indirectly entering waterways, lakes and ground water from there.
“To completely rebuild and seal the sewage system to make flooding impossible, even in extreme conditions, would cost an estimated £150-£650 billion. To put this in context, £150 billion is more than the entire schools, policing and defence budgets put together, and £650 billion far exceeds the cost of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I support clean rivers but the government of the day can only pass legislation that is costed, deliverable, and which does not inadvertently do more harm to the environment than good“.