How to make the Environment Act deliver on sewage pollution

The Environment Act is unlikely to solve the sewage pollution of English rivers and seas, unless certain additional actions are taken. This article written by David Levy, Marinet member, outlines some of these essential additional actions that require immediate delivery.


When the opportunity arose in 2021 during the passage of the Environment Bill through the Houses of Commons and Lords the support which was needed for the Duke of Wellington’s Amendment was absent from the major NGO players.

None of them were up-front and campaigning for change which would have brought about serious reform. Their silence was deafening. If I were the community group of campaigners in Whitstable, Kent, I would have wondered where these NGOs were.

Now with the Bill becoming an Act these NGOs have suddenly surfaced to launch petition after petition, action plan after action plan, along with media savvy articles which question the water companies on their performance in cleaning up river and sea water quality. In other words, they are part of the same hypocrisy that has enabled the water industry to get away with polluting our rivers. It is galling that nobody in the media is prepared to face up to the reality of the situation.

Even the Daily Telegraph in launching its ‘Clean Rivers Campaign’ is an example of highlighting the issue but, at the same time, failing to realise that when the issue is known about the true solutions need to be forthcoming to keep people’s interest solid. The official reform agenda which is currently on the table will have the opposite effect because, with this agenda, nothing will change the situation.

Well sorry, there is something you can action today which will make a difference.

• Make our Government issue an immediate order on all English local government councils to forbid any new building applications to go ahead without separating the foul sewer piping from the rain water piping. This happens in Wales, so why not in England? This is essential in order to lessen the load on over-worked sewage works which are constantly overflowing and discharging raw sewage to our rivers and the sea. Write to your MP and local councillors to action this.

• To do similar for all retro-fit building improvements. Write to your MP and local councillors to action this.

• Make local government and regional planners allow for flood plains and new marshland wherever this is possible. Write to your MP and local councillors to action this.

• Make Government close down any factory farm for pigs, poultry or cattle which cannot provide anaerobic digestion as a safe and viable disposal route for the animal waste which they are producing. Write to your MP and local councillors to action this.

• Get Government to limit the number of factory farms built alongside our national rivers, setting a quantity limit on the number on these farms for each river. Any proposed factory farm above this limit must be refused planning consent. Write to your MP and local councillors to action this.

• Make the Government introduce immediately the ‘Secondary Legislation’ which is needed to bring the new pollution restrictions and monitoring regulations in the Environment Act, such as the reporting by water companies of all overflow discharges to rivers within 1 hour of them happening, into action now. You thought such requirements would immediately happen because they are in the Environment Act (Clause 81)? No! It first requires additional ‘Secondary Legislation’ before these provisions in the Act become legally enforceable! Write to your MP to action this.

Now these actions are something to get behind, or is that beyond you. . . . . ?

Want cleaner rivers and seas — this is how you’ll get them! If you don’t do this, this change will not happen.


Please do share this

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Leave a comment