A LOCAL MP is calling for an end to sewage dumping in seas and rivers after cases rose by 67 per cent in the district in a year.
Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, has accused the government of enabling private water firms to “make a killing at the public’s expense”, while rivers and sea shores are being destroyed.
Environment Agency data shows there were over 470,000 intentional sewage discharges in the UK last year.
This includes 204 dumps into Warwick and Leamington rivers and waterways, which is up by 83 cases – 67 per cent – in just a year.
An analysis of the data by website ‘Top of the Poops’ shows the number of hours refuse was spewed into local waterways increased by nearly 600 in a year, to reach 1,350 hours.
Mr Western called for industry reform and increased regulation – including urgent funding being granted to the Environment Agency.
He said: “The Conservatives are standing by as our rivers and sea shores run brown with sewage and while private water company executives and shareholders make a killing at our expense.
“Astonishingly, 204 discharges represent a low number compared with hundreds of constituencies across the country.
“Regrettably most other MPs in Warwickshire voted to continue to allow sewage dumps in our rivers, waterways and seas when they had the chance to outlaw them last year.
“Perhaps surprisingly, Severn Trent, the supplier for Warwick and Leamington, is responsible for the second most sewage discharges of all UK providers.”
Mr Western continued: “Bear in mind that, despite all of this, executive salaries and bonuses have scandalously risen by a fifth on last year.
“Action must be taken so that our water network is run in the interests of the public and our environment – and not profits and shareholders.
“More funding for the Environment Agency – which has seen its budgets slashed by half in 10 years – and stricter punishments would potential ways to achieve this.
“Enough is enough. Only Labour is prepared to hold these companies to account,” he added.
All the private water firms that control the UK’s network were found to have missed targets for tackling pollution or sewage spills last year.
This includes Severn Trent which was fined £1.5m for discharges while its chief executive earned a £3.9m salary – making her the best paid of all the UK’s water firm bosses.
In 2021, Severn Trent allowed nearly 60,000 monitored spills of raw sewage into our waters which lasted 461,135 hours – which is equivalent to more than 50 years.
In total, it allowed at least 1,231 sewage dumps into the River Avon and 386 into the River Leam.
Water UK – which represents the nation’s water suppliers – says only 14 per cent of England’s rivers are rated as being in a good condition.
A spokesperson for Severn Trent said: “Severn Trent is 12 months ahead on each of the targets set out by regulators to improve the quality of its region’s rivers, and this includes exciting plans to dramatically improve parts of the River Leam and River Avon by 2025, as part of our £566million Green Recovery programme.
“Storm overflows, which are used in storm conditions to prevent flooding in customer homes and businesses, account for three per cent of rivers not achieving good ecological status. We already have monitors on 92 per cent of our sites and we’re on track to have 100 per cent installed by December 2022.
“As part of our Get River Positive commitments, we are on track to reduce the use of storm overflows to an average of 20 per year by 2025 and have pledged that our operations will not be the reason for unhealthy rivers by 2030, based on Environment Agency measures.”