River pollution
River pollution

As the Member of Parliament for Stockport, I am supporting calls from Stockport Labour Group urging the Government to take action against river pollution. 

The Labour Group has called on the Government to provide extra resources to cover the shortfall in operational capacity caused by the reduction in Environment Agency and Council budgets, as well as to seek additional funding for local and highways authorities to introduce systems that prevent road pollutants from entering our watercourses.

In March this year, I was successful in securing a Backbench Business Debate in the House of Commons on World Water Day. In my speech, I argued that “the privatised water system in our country is not fit for purpose and that it must be brought back into public hands to ensure the highest standards and value to the consumer. It must finally be restored after decades of failure”. Additionally, I recently added my name to Early Day Motion 505, which called on the Government to confer power on the Environment Agency to ensure that water companies take all reasonable steps to avoid discharging untreated sewage into inland waters.

In October, alongside other Labour MPs, I voted for an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have compelled companies to stop pumping raw sewage into the UK’s waterways. This was particularly pertinent following the release of data from the Rivers Trust, which showed that there were over 1,000 sewage spills from United Utilities within the Stockport constituency last year. 

Furthermore, in a series of Written Parliamentary Questions, I pushed the Government on the steps they are taking to address river pollution. I have asked about Departmental budgets for tackling river pollution, as well as what action they are taking to reduce phosphate pollution and metal contamination of bed sediments in the Upper Mersey catchment. 

In the past year alone, raw sewage was discharged into UK rivers and seas more than 400,000 times. There must be more stringent regulation of water companies to prevent the ‘pollute now, pay later’ policy they seem to be pursuing. 

I therefore wholeheartedly agree with the Labour Group and will be writing to the Government, insisting that they urgently lay out how they intend to address this and push them to make additional funding available to tackle the scourge of river pollution in our area.

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