Welsh Labour MS mocks Tory MPs after U-turn on dumping raw sewage in rivers
A Labour MS has mocked Tory MPs following a U-turn by the UK Government on dumping raw sewage in rivers.
Alun Davies, who represents Blaenau Gwent, has poked fun at Conservatives who defended the Westminster government’s policy, only for it to be reversed today.
Tory ministers were forced into a climbdown after a public backlash on the issue.
Conservative MPs, including 10 in Welsh constituencies, had voted against an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have forced water companies to reduce their discharge of effluent into rivers and seas.
But now the UK Government’s Environment Secretary George Eustice has said a new legal duty will be imposed on water firms to “progressively reduce” the amount of sewage pumped into waterways from storm overflows.
In response to the U-turn former Welsh Government minister Alun Davies said: “Prayers for all those dutiful Tory MPs who took to social media to defend a policy yesterday only to see the govt about turn today.
“Looking forward to learning how a policy which was impossible a few hours ago is now the only way forward. Bless them.”
One Welsh Tory MP to staunchly defend the UK Government’s previous position was David TC Davies, the MP for Monmouth who is also Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Wales Office.
He went viral after branding criticism of his position “spreading hatred”.
Sustainable energy and community development professional Catrin Matby has challenged the politician, saying “So @DavidTCDavies, you voted yesterday to allow water companies to continue dumping RAW SEWAGE in our rivers. But you told Monmouth THIS was what was killing the Wye and the Usk, and not the effect of intensive farming or poultry units near water courses.”
David TC Davies told Matby: “We voted to reduce sewage going into rivers-but we cant risk it backing up into people’s homes. The facts were set out but activists like u are more interested in spreading hatred on twitter than looking at the arguments. In this of all weeks – shame on you”.
“I am an open water swimmer myself’
The politician also defended the policy in a lengthy article on his website, writing: “I fully understand the concerns everyone has about sewage flowing into rivers. I am an open water swimmer myself, as are my children, so I have a personal interest in this matter.
“The historical background is that the current sewage and drainage system was built in Victorian times. Waste water from rain is channelled into the system alongside waste water and sewage from households and businesses.
“This is usually channelled into purification plants to be cleaned before flowing back into the river system. However, when there is heavy rainfall, too much water enters the system and water pressure builds.
“If the water pressure reaches a certain level then this mixture of rain water and sewage would, if not dealt with, flow back up the pipes and flood into people’s houses.
“Obviously this cannot be allowed to happen so before that stage is reached the water companies ease the pressure by releasing untreated waste water directly into the river system. This means that sewage enters the river system. It is diluted because this only happens when there is heavy rainfall, however it is still unacceptable.
“This has always been the case but in recent years the sewage discharges into the river system have increased. This is because of the increase in population size and in extreme weather this has put extra pressure on the sewage system.
“The UK Government have decided to address this issue in England (it has no say over what happens in Wales). The Bill means that Government will be drawing up a plan to reduce sewage discharges and the Environment Agency and water companies based in England will report regularly on discharges.
“Water companies in England will have to monitor storm overflows and publish notification of the overflow occurring and ceasing within 1 hour of operation.
“Water companies will also be required to monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of the discharge. The government is to publish a report by 1 September 2022 setting out the actions required to achieve elimination of sewage discharge and the cost and benefits of doing so.
“Completely resolving the problem of sewage discharges would require rebuilding the sewage system and I have heard Ministers suggesting this could cost between £150 and £600 billion pounds and take many years. For comparison the Government spends around £160billion on the NHS in England every year. Obviously once we have more data and costs then further measures can be taken.
“If MPs had voted last week to immediately ban any discharge of sewage into the river system then any heavy rainfall would have led to sewage flooding back up the pipes into people’s homes. It would have been grossly irresponsible to do this.”
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