MP Graham Stuart has responded to claims that he and fellow Conservative MPs voted against measures to prevent untreated sewage from being released across the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Members of an outdoor swimming group in Hornsea, who are using an app to monitor the quality of the water they swim in on any given day, have contacted the local MP to raise their concerns.
The issue has come to the attention of the public following an amendment to the Environment Bill, which was tabled by the Duke of Wellington, Charles Wellesley, and voted on in the House of Commons last Wednesday. The Bill has now been passed back to the House of Lords for further consideration today (26th October).
Reacting to the votes, which have prompted dozens of emails, Tweets and Facebook posts from constituents, Graham said:
“Firstly, I’d like to assure my constituents that I’m very strongly opposed to untreated sewage being discharged into our rivers and off our coast, where my constituents rightly expect to find clean water.
“I agreed with much of what the Duke of Wellington’s amendment asked for, which is why, contrary to many reports, I didn’t vote against his amendment, but voted to remove a specific section of it which could have added costs of between £5,000 and £20,000 for every single household in the UK.
“Without a plan or an impact assessment, this could’ve passed on unfathomable costs to consumers or the taxpayer, and it wouldn’t have been responsible to vote in favour of this. The problem stems from the UK’s Victorian-era pipes system and it’s so complex that no previous Government has attempted to tackle it.
“But we have to face facts that our 19th-century system is no longer fit for purpose, which is why I’ve voted in favour of making the Government come up with a plan to reduce storm overflows by next year, as well as creating a report on the costs and benefits of eliminating them entirely.
“This will provide the public with clear information on what the Government is doing to reduce the unacceptable levels of sewage being discharged into rivers, and what this will mean for them.”
Currently, the UK has just one system of pipes to collect both rainwater and wastewater from homes. During storms, so much rainwater can sometimes enter the system that the sewage is forced back to the surface.
Storm overflows are designed to allow the sewage to be discharged into rivers instead of flowing back into people’s households.
Earlier this year, in North Newbald, where the problem is exacerbated by underground springs seeping into the system, residents experienced flooded effluent on their streets and in their gardens as a result of this longstanding issue.
After meeting with Yorkshire Water, who release untreated sewage into Beverley Beck, Graham confirmed an extra £500,000 investment to improve the sewers, in the hope it will prevent groundwater seeping into the system and adding to the problems.
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