Welsh Conservative MP claims devolution complicates rivers clean-up
A Welsh MP who voted against an amendment aimed at reducing river pollution has said that devolution makes tackling the problem more complicated.
David Davies, Conservative Monmouth MP, claims devolved matters overseen by the Senedd are making it harder to find a united solution.
Mr Davies was speaking after meeting with senior officers from National Resources Wales (NRW) along with Monmouth MS Peter Fox, having first had discussions in August.
He said he was disappointed that having invited local residents who had expressed concerns and environmental campaigners, only a handful turned up.
According to the Forest Review Mr Davies said: “One thing we have learnt when it comes to dealing with the impact of pollution on the quality of our rivers is that devolution is making matters more complicated, especially when you have a river such as the Wye forming part of the border between England and Wales.
“River cleanliness in England is regulated by the Environment Agency (EA), which is funded by and answers to the UK Conservative Government. However, the EA has no power in Wales.
“Here, regulating river cleanliness is done by NRW. This body reports to and is held accountable by the Welsh Labour Government.”
“Another problem is the level of phosphates entering our river system, partly from sewage but more generally from agriculture and runoff from soil.”
He added “I have called on the Welsh Labour Government to replicate the measures being taken in England to reduce the amount of sewage being pumped into the water.
“The fact is the UK Government is taking action to address what it acknowledges is a very important issue. At the very least, the Welsh Government must adopt what is being done in England.”
In November, the ‘Environment Act 2021’, passed in Westminster, introducing a range of new measures that aim to reduce the harmful impact of sewage on rivers and coastal areas in England.
These included new requirements on water companies in England, the UK Minister, and the Environment Agency.
But with no equivalent measures in place in Wales the responsibility for water quality in Wales rests with the Welsh Government and NRW.
Mr Davies was one of ten Welsh MPs who voted against an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have forced water companies to reduce their discharge of effluent into rivers and seas.
The Victorian sewage system was designed to release storm waters into rivers or the seam but struggles at peak times to cope meaning that while there is some basic filtering, foul waste and sewage often ends up being discharged too.