United Utilities dumped sewage in Rochdale — Tory government does nothing about it

Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, said, “The fact that any raw sewage is dumped in Rochdale should shock us all. Last year, the Conservatives allowed 110 days’ worth of raw sewage to be dumped into Rochdale’s open spaces, analysis has revealed.

“We were promised by this government some years back that by 2027, 75% of our rivers would be “good”. Recent figures tell us only 16% are “good” and that’s remained unchanged over the last five years. We’re not going to get anywhere near that target with the Tories in government.

“Underfunding of the Environment Agency means it can’t monitor the action of the companies as it should. Ofwat, the companies regulator, is a toothless body which simply doesn’t regulate. So is it any wonder that water companies haven’t invested in preventing all this in the years since privatisation?

“Bear in mind water companies don’t have a right to pollute and it’s an offence. The number of prosecutions has dropped well down but what has kept up well is the dividends paid out. Some at least of the £296 million paid as dividends by United Utilities could have been invested in overflow prevention but it wasn’t. That has to change.

“I’ve raised this in Parliament as have other MPs. We’ve got to insist that the right to clean rivers and seas is a priority.”

Labour analysis of Environment Agency data shows that in 2022, raw sewage was discharge into Rochdale for 2,657, the equivalent of there being a continuous flow of sewage taking place for a staggering three-and-a-half months of the year.

The data comes after Labour analysis revealed that nationally since 2016, a new sewage dumping event has taken place an average of every two-and-a-half minutes, with rivers, lakes, seas, and beaches having faced a staggering 1,276 years’ worth of raw sewage over just a seven-year period.

The news will inevitably once again spark serious concern at the environmental, health and economic impact that sewage dumping is having on communities across the country.

Indeed, a Parliamentary Question tabled by Shadow Environment Secretary Jim McMahon, revealed that the Conservative Government has failed to conduct any economic assessments of the impact of sewage pollution on tourism trade and businesses.

At the end of last year, the Labour Party revealed that sewage discharges more than doubled from 14.7 per overflow in 2016 to 35.4 in 2019, coinciding with current Environment Secretary Therese Coffey’s decision to cut funding for environmental protection, during her tenure as Water Minister.

These new revelations on sewage dumping come as Coffey continues to face significant pressure after a troubled start to her new role, having broken the Government’s own statutory deadline for publishing water quality targets; announced a 36-year delay to cleaning-up waterways; told Parliament that meeting polluting water bosses wasn’t her priority and been heavily criticised for announcing a storm overflow reduction plan containing no reduction measures.

During the passage of the Environment Bill, Conservative MPs voted to allow water firms to continue sewage dumping having blocked a Labour-backed amendment that would have progressively eliminated sewage dumping.

A future Labour Government would implement measures that would force water companies to clean up their act and progressively end sewage dumping and the culture of water companies treating our natural environment as an open sewer.


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