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Lord's Amendment 45

2021 October 26

When I came to the UK (or more precise, to England) 18 years ago, one thing I noticed (though took a bit of time) was that there were no massive storms like you will get in Cantabria. Storms that will last for 3 or 4 days, and that in Winter meant you could barely see outside of the car. In London used to rain often, but those rains were light and brief.

This state has been noticeably changed in the last few years, with more and more episodes of heavy rains (and the floodings within the city).

In this climate (plus Brexit) is where the new Environment Bill is taking place.

There have been a few tweets in the last few days regarding the sewage discharges due to storm overflows. For example this or this. I did not retweet any of it because I did not have enough info.

Then I read a post by my MP (Sir Robert Neill) that seemed to be measured and well explained: Environment Bill and Storm Overflows.

But two things called my attention. One was the cost line. As I have heard that same line by other MPs and the government, it seemed like a canned excuse. The second was that he refers to only 7 lines that were removed (as part of amendment 45a).

So this time I went to the source, the Environment Bill Amendments publish by Parliament.

Let’s look at the removed lines:

141A Duty  on  sewerage  undertakers  to  take  all  reasonable  steps  to
ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows

(1) A  sewerage  undertaker  must  demonstrate  improvements  in  the
sewerage  systems  and progressive  reductions in the  harm  caused
by untreated sewage discharges.

(2) The  Secretary  of  State,  the  Director  and  the  Environment  Agency
must  exercise  their  respective  functions  under  this  and  any  other
Act to secure compliance with this duty.

So those lines refer to the water companies (in England and Wales, as Water is a public service in Scotland) taking measures to prevent the storm overflows. Doesn’t give a time limit. Doesn’t say how they need to approach it. Doesn’t say how much they need to spend. It only says that they should be working on reducing it.

The Lords added a section to tell companies not to only reap the benefits, but deal with the obligations.

And they removed that.

All the talk about the massive amount of money needed to improve (where do those figures come from?) is hiding the fact that they are shifting the responsibility from the companies that profit from the service to the government/tax payer that are already paying for the service.

So no, any justification given by my MP and others rings hollow and untruthful.

Unless otherwise stated, all posts are my own and not associated with any other particular person or company.

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