Putney MP Reacts with Fury to River Wandle Sewage Spills

Fleur Anderson describes it as 'dangerous, dirty and disgusting'

Pollution levels have risen in River Wandle due to sewage discharges



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There was an angry response from Fleur Anderson, the MP for Putney, after she saw images posted by residents of of raw sewage and ‘fatbergs the size of rugby balls’ floating down the River Wandle.

Recent research has indicated that there were over 80 sewage leaks in 2021 into the River Wandle. A survey by The Rivers’ Trust has found that raw sewage was discharged into Putney’s natural environment for a duration of 221 hours last year alone.

According to the Wandle Valley Forum, the sewage outfall was reported in the Poulter Park area and originated from Thames Water’s Beddington Farmlands sewage works.

The news comes after more than 40 beaches across the UK have issued pollution warnings, as MPs and the public express growing anger about raw sewage in our waters.

Ms Anderson said, “All Putney residents who enjoy walking the banks of our beautiful River Wandle will be deeply shocked by the news that there was a major sewage release into the river last week. This is on top of 81 sewage leaks into the river last year alone.

“Thousands of people fish, play and swim in this river, and would have assumed our Government had basic safety and hygiene standards in place to prevent these foul leaks.

“Last year Thames Water was fined £2.3m for a pollution incident in 2016 that resulted in the death of 1,200 fish and damaged the environment. But they are continuing to pollute our waters. I voted in Parliament in 2021 for legislation that would have demanded water companies stop the practice of raw sewage dumping into our environment. Almost every Conservative MP voted against this, and enabled companies to continue to put raw sewage into our rivers and seas.

“Not only that, but the bare minimum has also been too much for the Government on this issue - their sewage reduction plan was only published this week, after the French Government demanded we do more to protect our waters. Our water bills are going up and we expect Thames Water to clean up our rivers, not pollute them. I have written to the Chief Executive of Thames Water to demand an urgent meeting and will continue to demand stronger action by Government and enforcement by the Environment Agency.”

Labour Party research shows that on average, water companies in England and Wales are pumping raw sewage into our natural every two-and-a-half minutes, with areas such as beaches, playing fields and bathing waters having faced 1,076 years-worth of raw sewage dumped over a six-year period.

Last year, Conservative MPs voted to allow water firms to continue sewage dumping, having blocked a Labour-backed amendment to the Environment Bill, that would have sought to progressively eliminate sewage dumping.

Jim McMahon, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said, “Conservative MPs who are busy Tippexing over their voting records must explain to the country why they voted to allow the scenes of sewage dumping that we’re seeing on the news.

“Families across the country should be able to just enjoy where they live, work or holiday, without having to worrying about encountering filthy sewage as a result of water firms being allowed to cut corners.

“Britain deserves better than a zombie Tory government up to its neck in raw sewage. A Labour government will use the levers of power to hold reckless water bosses to account and toughen regulations to prevent them from gaming the system.”

Following a consultation held by the government on its plan for handling sewage discharges, it issued a statement saying, “The government has carefully considered the feedback received from all individuals and stakeholder groups and balanced the desire to see reductions in discharges from storm overflows as soon as possible against the impact on customer bills and carbon emissions from the water industry. As such, we intend to adopt the targets as originally set out in the consultation.

“However, we recognise the significant public interest in this issue, and that efficiencies and new technologies may become apparent as the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan progresses. We also recognise that current impacts on the cost of living present a significant variable that we must be live to in the coming years, and we must continue to carefully monitor any impacts on household bills. We have therefore introduced a review point in 2027.”

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September 2, 2022

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