Labour pledges to introduce measures to end dumping of sewage in waterways

Ministers and water companies would face a new legal obligation to end the dumping of sewage in the country’s waterways, Labour has said.

New proposed legislation, introduced by shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon, would make it a legal requirement to monitor all sewage outlets, as well as creating a statutory underpinning for penalties for failures to adhere to such requirements.

It comes as the party accused the Government of “regurgitating” old ideas, after Environmental Secretary Therese Coffey revealed plans which could see water companies face unlimited fines over pollution.

Labour’s Bill would also impose automatic fines for sewage dumping, as well as implementing a legally binding target to reduce it.

Raw sewage that was dumped into the River Great Ouse at Brackley  (Environment Agency/PA)
Raw sewage that was dumped into the River Great Ouse at Brackley (Environment Agency/PA)

The proposals would also create a new requirement for the Secretary of State to publish a strategy on the reduction of sewage discharges, as well as regular economic impact assessments.

Labour wants the Conservatives to allow time in Parliament for the Bill, although there is little to no prospect of the plan becoming law.

“It’s clear that we have a Tory government that has run out of road, when all it can resort to is regurgitating old announcements that do nothing to end sewage dumping,” Mr McMahon said.

“That’s why Labour has brought forward legislation to force the clean-up of the water industry.

“Tory MPs, having previously blocked Labour-backed measures to end the Tory sewage scandal, have no excuses for not supporting this Bill, which puts an end to sewage dumping once and for all.

“The next Labour government will build a better Britain and end the Tory sewage scandal, delivering mandatory monitoring on all sewage outlets, introducing automatic fines for discharges, setting ambitious targets for stopping systematic sewage dumping and ensuring that water bosses are held to account for negligence.”