Robert Halfon MP votes to “significantly reduce..sewage discharge into rivers and waterways”
General / Tue 9th Nov 2021 at 05:59pm
LAST night, the Environment Bill returned to the Commons for further debate on the Lords amendments regarding sewage discharge.
Harlow MP Robert Halfon said:”I voted to significantly reduce, and ultimately end sewage being discharged into our rivers and waterways from storm overflows.
“The measures I voted for go further than the measures requested in the Duke of Wellington’s amendment two weeks ago. They provide proper legal backing which the Government and Office for Environmental Protection can use to take action to enforce the existing mechanisms in the Water Industry Act 1991.
“The measures I have voted for include:
1. A new duty on the Government to produce a statutory plan to reduce and eliminate discharges from storm overflows and their adverse impact required before 1 September 2022.
2. A new duty directly on water companies and the Environment Agency to publish plans for how they will end their contribution to this issue.
3. A new duty directly on water companies to publish near real time information on the operation of storm overflows.
4. A new duty directly on water companies to monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflows and sewage disposal works.
5. New powers for the Government and the Office for Environmental Protection to fine Water Companies if they do not adhere to the reduction plans.
“In addition, more action is being taken outside of the Bill:
1. For the first time, the Government will be telling the industry’s economic regulator that they expect water companies to take steps to ‘significantly reduce…storm overflows’ and to make sure that companies actually spend the money they have allocated to this.
2. Between 2020 and 2025, water companies will invest £7.1 billion on environmental improvements in England. Of this, £3.1 billion will be invested in storm overflows directly.
3. New mandatory build standards will be introduced for sustainable drainage schemes on new developments.
4. A new Storm Overflows Task Force has been established to bring together key stakeholders from the water industry, environmental NGOs, regulators, and Government in order to reduce and end sewage discharges.
“The measures, taken together, will significantly reduce and ultimately end sewage discharge into our rivers and waterways.
“I do understand the deep concerns many residents have about the media stories and social media posts that have been posted to mislead these recent votes.
“However, I want to reassure constituents that my record on this is clear. I have voted to reduce and ultimately end sewage discharge into our rivers and waterways, with proper legal backing and in a way that does not cost Harlow taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds on their bills.
“This comes on top of the many other steps that are being taken to ensure we have a greener Harlow and a greener Britain by cherishing our environment.”
This U-turn and vote only came about when a new plan was hastily cobbled together after the enormous public outcry when Tory MPs, including Halfon, voted to dump raw sewage into our waterways a couple of weeks ago. It’s yet another change of opinion forced upon him which he could have avoided by doing the right thing in the first place rather than toady to his party masters! He has no green credentials, the only thing about him that’s ‘net zero’ is his credibility.
Why is RH now being so vocal on this subject? Could it be this: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/geoffrey-cox-sleaze-boris-johnson-b1954610.html "MPs told to be ‘visible’ as Boris Johnson hints at crackdown on some second jobs" Is this about turn by RH and this "governement" an attempt to be more 'visible'? I guess the Tories have to protect their lobbying jobs. How else can they survive on 'only' £82K a year? I suspect there will be more stories from RH being more 'visible' in the near future.
6 months should be more than enough for water companies to come up with plans, we already have detailed maps of surface water, industrial and sewage combined systems.Each system needs to be separated and water treated to remove pollutants. There's seriously dangerous chemicals in surface waters that the general public perhaps don't realise are there, these range from fertilizers, farm sewage, and potent pharmaceutical products and so surface water needs to be as potent a source of pollution as sewage. As we have seen in Harlow water from industrial sites also pollutes the environment, streams (blue red dyes at Canon's Brook ) and we see detergent, oil and untreated in the river. It's an urgent matter, we already have the worst rivers and beaches in Europe and the industry have been too content to draw profits whilst putting patches on an out of date Victorian System. It's very relevant here because it's before Planning Committees next week to send all of the sewage and surface waters from HGGT Gilston Estate development towards Harlow and the River Stort Valley, these will impact on the old Harlow combined sewage, industrial and sewage system, that is already overloaded to cause more frequent and extensive sewage laden flooding in the Valley and Harlow homes, the proposed Eastern Crossing, a raised road across the Valley from Pye Corner to Edinburgh Way will make matters worse so needs to be stopped by Harlow Council at the Planning meeting on.17th November. There are other routes that are less polluting, less damaging and at a lesser cost to the public purse. Also, whilst Harlow system is upgraded, The Hggt pfp and Gilston Estate developers and Thames Water needs to build and install water sewage treatment works on the Gilston Estate land to remove pollution and, as the current Water Directive Legislation requires, improve the quality of water being returned to the river and to a flood plain that should be increased by 10% to raise levels of biodiversity (as the coming Environment Bill will require of development sites) . Water is a matter of public health not profit, some of what gets dumped in rivers ends up in our drinking water, all of it makes bathing at the beach and the river unsafe. It's no good asking the mainly foreign owned industry to act, there's little incentive, new legislation needs to be passed to set targets that if not met will produce fines and a return to public ownership. Water is a National issue and needs to tackled on a National basis. Each region needs to be connected together so that flooding can be avoided and wetter areas can send water to drier areas. A National Water Grid is needed not least to help tackle the current situation of pollution and flooding but also to help protect us against Climate Change.
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We know this is a lie and spin! It's common news now Robert, your party have been in power for how long again? And you are saying what.. Hogwash - Tory stooge