Geoffrey Clifton-Brown responds to Lib Dem’s Cotswold river sewage concerns

The MP for the Cotswolds has responded to claims that Conservatives let water companies ‘get away’ with dumping sewage in rivers.

Last week, Liberal Democrat county councillor Paul Hodgkinson said statistics revealing the Combined Sewage Overflows of water companies were “simply staggering”.

In the Cotswold district, there were 1,117 releases in 2021, for a total of 12,613 hours, a quarter of all spillage hours in Gloucestershire.

Councillor Hodgkinson believes the Conservative MPs in the area should have done more to control the situation.

He said: “Despite this clear evidence, Conservative MPs are letting water companies get away with it, while also raking in multi-billion-pound annual profits. 

“Five of Gloucestershire’s MPs all failed to support an amendment to the Environment Bill, which would have put a legal duty on these companies to phase out sewage dumping. 

“It’s time to send a message once and for all that this filthy practice has to end.”

Now, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has responded to the councillor’s accusations.

He said: “I have recognised the unacceptable levels of sewage pollution in our rivers for some time.

“That is why the Government passed the Environment Act to meter and publish the amount of sewage going into our rivers.

“The water companies then have to create a plan for the Environment Agency on how they are going to improve this situation.

“The Government then refers this to OFWAT who set the level of water bills to allow the companies to invest in extra capacity in our sewage systems to prevent sewage entering our rivers.”

He added: “Unlike the Lib Dems who always sit on the sidelines and criticise, I have been actively campaigning for a change in law and I have been working closely with Windrush Against Sewage Pollution and other groups, with twice-yearly meetings, delegations to Ministers, and raising the issue in Public Accounts Committee hearings where I have directly questioned chief executive of the Environment Agency, James Bevan, on sewage discharges from combined sewage overflows into rivers.”

Severn Trent Water made up almost three-quarters of release hours in the area, with 37,602.

A spokesperson of the company said: “We’re passionate about making a positive impact on the communities and the environment where we live and work.

“Our region’s rivers are currently the healthiest they have been since the Industrial Revolution.

“We’re working hard to use overflows less and investing £100m a year to go even further in improving rivers so that nature can continue to thrive.”

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