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EAC comment: Environment Bill amendments – storm overflows

27 August 2021

Commenting on the Government’s new amendments to the Environment Bill relating to storm overflows, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

"I welcome the latest Government amendments to the Environment Bill on storm overflows. These provisions could be a large step forward, building on some of the measures proposed in my Private Members Bill last year, to improve transparency, biodiversity and water quality. During the Committee's inquiry into water quality, we have heard horror stories of unreported discharges into rivers from waste water treatment works. This requirement on sewerage companies to monitor continuously and report in near real time on water quality upstream and downstream, can help to identify problem areas much more quickly.

"There must be no excuse for illegal sewage spills. Another welcome amendment helps prepare the ground for eliminating overflows entirely. Water companies have a responsibility to protect our precious waterways that are so often plagued with unacceptable pollution threatening wildlife and human health. The amendments today may also increase protections for recreational water users: properly implemented, EDM real time data can make it possible for people to see whether it is safe to swim.

"The Committee's inquiry continues, and we expect to examine the Government's proposals in greater detail when we question the DEFRA Minister responsible in September."

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