Peterborough MPs back controversial government decision to vote down amendment to reduce sewage dumped into UK rivers

Both of Peterborough’s MPs have voted with the government against an amendment that sought to reduce the amount of raw sewage dumped in the UK’s waterways.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 5:00 am
Paul Bristow and Shailesh Vara.

A social media stir has ensued after MPs voted down Amendment 45 to the Environment Bill, put forward by the Duke of Wellington, by 268 votes to 204 last week.

Just 22 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government but the city’s two MPs Paul Bristow MP and Shailesh Vara MP voted with the government and against the amendment.

The amendment was put forward by the duke in the House of Lords and, if accepted, would have placed a legal duty on water companies in England and Wales “to make improvements to their sewage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.” It would also have obligated the same companies to “take all reasonable steps to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows.”

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This means that in theory, companies remain free to dispose of raw sewage into the country’s rivers.

Last year, figures released by the Environment Agency showed that no rivers in English rated as being of good ecological standard. This included the River Nene, which was classed to be failing due to pollution levels from rural areas and towns. It is believed that raw sewage was discharged into rivers more than 400,000 times last year.

Some critics of the amendment have insisted that it came with no coherent plant of how the reductions were going to be achieved nor how much it could end up costing the taxpayer.

The Peterborough Telegraph contacted both Mr Bristow and Mr Vara in regards to the reasons for their votes but neither has responded as yet.