THE Gazette’s edition on 14/04/2022 had an extraordinary letter from Dilly Bradley that made a number of claims, which are demonstrably not true.

Dilly claims - “Fact 1 : The Government has passed comprehensive legislation forcing water companies to end sewage discharges.”

If only. In November last year there was a Lords Amendment to the Environment Bill. Lords Amendment 45 proposed by the Duke of Wellington, “would place a new duty on sewerage undertakers in England and Wales to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.”

It was rejected by the government and voted against by our MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow!

There was an outcry and the government then came up with amendment 45B. This version was much weaker, as it was confined to storm overflows and not the sewerage system as a whole.

This caused another outcry, which was given further momentum when on January 13th, the Environmental Audit Select Committee warned that, “our rivers are in danger...every single river in England is contaminated with ‘a cocktail of chemicals’...water companies regularly discharge into rivers and fail to disclose overflows...(and) English river quality is the worst in Europe.”

The Government had two months to respond to the Committee’s recommendations and its response is now overdue. Hopefully, the Government will now rethink its plan (an aspiration) to eliminate 40% of raw sewage overflows by 2040 (and 80% by 2050). Rebecca Pow has stated, “water quality is an absolute priority” and there does appear to be a shift in how Ofwat will now operate.

However, I share the concerns of the Rivers Trust, the umbrella organisation of 65 water charities, which recently stated: “Some of Ofwat’s language is a concern. There is too much focus on Ofwat ‘challenging’, ‘encouraging’, and ‘pushing’ the water sector for change. Ofwat is the regulator, not the cheerleader for water companies. We need specifics on enforceable mechanisms.”

I await the Government’s overdue response to the Environment Audit Committee with much interest!

David Lausen, Staplegrove