NEW laws aimed at combating the ongoing pollution of Britain’s rivers have been roundly slammed this month.
Under measures aimed at creating a ‘greener post-pandemic Britain’, by 2022 the Government must publish plans on how it will tackle the issue of sewage discharges into rivers from storm overflows, and make it law for water companies to publish annual data on their storm overflow operations.
The proposals have, somewhat predictably, been praised by junior Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, who said:
“Putting new commitments to improve our rivers into law is an important step forward in cutting down the water sector’s reliance on storm overflows.”
However, the passive nature of the new measures has been roundly criticised by the Angling Trust, which has been lobbying the Government to clean up its act under the ‘Anglers Against Pollution’ banner.
Its head of campaigns, Stuart Singleton-White, said:
“The (new) laws really are the minimum required. We need measures to drive action, and with these, that is not guaranteed. The problem goes beyond storm overflows. We need action to invest in better sewage treatment across the board, as well as supporting and enforcing farmers to follow the rules in protecting our rivers.”
Shocking new data released by the Environment Agency has revealed that raw sewage was poured into our rivers more than 400,000 times in 2020 – a worrying 27 per cent increase on 2019.
“These figures are disgraceful,” Stuart added,
“and, alarmingly, they are likely to be an underestimation, as not all storm overflows are monitored.
“The problem is only getting worse. We need Government to make sorting out this mess a priority after the pandemic. Anything less will show it is not serious when it comes to cleaning up our waterways.”