Sewage pollution and the Environmental Bill

The Environmental Bill is in the news a lot at the moment. In November 2021, the House of Lords proposed a legal duty on water firms to reduce untreated sewage being pumped into rivers and oceans. Ministers rejected the amendment at first, but following pressure from peers and campaigners, the Government put forward its own legislation and alternative solution.

Previously, the Government had the opportunity to stop pumping raw sewage into rivers and the ocean. They have already made significant changes to the Environment Bill to tackle sewage pollution such as sewage discharge reporting and monitoring duties.

However, many water companies exploit legal loopholes and treat rivers and the ocean as open sewers; this means that companies are allowed to release sewage into rivers after certain weather events, such as periods of heavy rain. This protects properties from flooding and prevents sewage from backing up into streets and into peoples homes.

The Environment Agency figures show that water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers in England more than 400,000 times last year, with untreated effluent, including human waste, wet wipes and condoms, released into our waters for more than three million hours in 2020.

We need effective legislation which can help our waters. The main purposes of the Environment Bill are to:

  • Transform our environmental governance as we leave the EU by putting environmental principles into law, introducing legally binding targets, and establishing a new Office for Environmental Protection.
  • Increase local powers to tackle sources of air pollution.
  • Protect nature and improve biodiversity by working with developers.
  • Extended producer responsibility, ensure a consistent approach to recycling, introduce deposit return schemes, and introduce charges for specified single-use plastic items.
  • Secure long-term, resilient water and wastewater services, including through powers to direct water companies to work together to meet current and future demand.

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Bates Environmental Ltd is the leading independent sewage treatment specialist in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and parts of Northamptonshire. We aim to deliver the highest professional service using our expertise in the design, supply, installation, servicing and repair of all makes of sewage treatment plants, drainage and septic tank systems. If you require any drain unblocking service, then please get in touch with us here at Bates Environmental.