How the Labour Party intends to clean up our waterways


by Aidan Bordiuk |
Published on

As the UK transitions into a new government in 2024, how exactly does the newly elected Labour Party plan to prevent further sewage entering our waterways, and what measures do they propose to clean up the unacceptable pollution we have already witnessed as anglers?

Last year was the worst for sewage spills since records began according to Environment Agency data with sewage discharged for an eye watering record 3.6 million hours across England in 2023.

Hopefully sights like these will become a thing of the past.
Hopefully sights like these will become a thing of the past.

The number of sewage discharges has skyrocketed by 54%, from over 464,092 sewage spills in 2023, compared to 301,291 in 2022. This led to an unprecedented amount of fish kills last year too, also causing aquatic invertebrate life to be heavily impacted, with the latest figures indicating rivers with a rating of “poor” were at their highest since 2015.

Our waterway health was a major concern during this election, especially amongst anglers who had grown tired and angry with the complete disregard water companies had shown for our beloved rivers. So, let's delve into what exactly Labour plan to do and see if their promises come to fruition.

According to their manifesto: "Labour has pledged to put failing water companies under tough special measures to force them to clean up their toxic mess and protect people’s health."

This includes:

  • Giving the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth. We don’t need the dither and delay of a consultation; we need immediate action.

  • Water bosses who oversee repeated law-breaking will face criminal charges.

  • Ending self-monitoring and forcing all companies to monitor every single water outlet under independent supervision so companies can no longer cover up illegal sewage dumping.

  • Introducing severe and automatic fines that water companies can’t afford to ignore for illegal sewage discharges.

  • Put failing utility companies under special measures to clean up our water resources.

Whilst this all looks good on paper, only time will tell if the new government intends to stick to what they have promised the public and us anglers and restore our waterways to their former glory. Pollution in any form in 2024 is unacceptable, so we can only hope that the unparalleled incidents we have seen become a thing of the past.

Will we ever see an unpolluted river again?
Will we ever see an unpolluted river again? ©Shutterstock
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