This relates to yesterday’s Opposition Day motion and debate on water quality and sewage discharges.
To be clear, I did not abstain on this vote, rather, I was not in Parliament that day as I was holding meetings and working in the constituency. However, had I been in London, I would have voted to ‘call on the Government to set a target for the reduction of sewage discharges, to provide for financial penalties in relation to discharges and breaches of monitoring requirements and to carry out an impact assessment of sewage discharges’.
Opposition members chose to abstain on their own motion and the Prime Ministers motion passed by 286 votes.
However, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats did not even vote on the motion above, the Conservative Government has already taken action on tackling sewage discharges, having published the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. This will require water companies to deliver their largest ever environmental infrastructure investment - £56 billion capital investment over 25 years - into a long-term programme to tackle storm sewage discharges by 2050. Our local water company, United Utilities, published a plan in June 2022 detailing their initial plans to spend £18.2 billion to meet requirements, of which £3.3 billion will be invested in our region, with £2 billion of this being invested by 2035.
The targets will mean that water companies need to take measures such as increasing the capacity of their networks and treating sewage before it is discharged to protect public health and prevent pollution, while massively reducing all discharges. Failure to meet these targets could see them face substantial fines or having to return money to customers.