Campaign groups give cautious welcome to government climbdown over sewage amendment

Along with other campaign groups, the Angling Trust has given a cautious and guarded welcome to last night’s announcement of a government climbdown on the Lords Amendment to the Environment Bill aimed at ending sewage pollution from storm overflows.

After a massive public backlash, ministers have agreed to bring forward a government amendment similar to Amendment 45 in the name of the Duke of Wellington, which was controversially voted down in the House of Commons last Wednesday. The amendment will be introduced in the House of Commons, when the Bill returns there for the next stage of passage.

It is claimed by ministers that the measure will:

“ …put a new duty on water companies directly to secure a reduction in the impact of sewage discharges from storm overflows and will inject additional regulatory backing to government priorities to reduce storm overflows.”  

Writing in a blog for members and supporters, Angling Trust Policy Chief Martin Salter said:

“The Angling Trust will continue working jointly with The Rivers Trust, Surfers Against Sewage, Salmon & Trout Conservation and others in trying to get the best possible outcomes for our ailing rivers. We will look carefully at the government’s new amendment when it’s published and we will have particular focus on the forthcoming Strategic Policy Statement for Water (SPS) which sets the framework for water industry investment over the next five year period.

“We will want to see real action focussing on sensitive catchments where the environmental damage is at its worst. There will need to be a balance of increased investment in sewerage infrastructure triggered through the SPS and the forthcoming water industry price review, coupled with the increased adoption of the nature-based solutions advocated by The Rivers Trust and others to keep rainwater out of the system in the first place.”

He added:

“We all want to secure meaningful action to end the scandal of sewage pollution of our rivers, waterways and coastline – not just more endless monitoring of a problem that is plain to see and possible to fix without costing the fantasy sums suggested by ministers and immediately undermined by their own reports and studies.”

Useful links:

Environment Bill update: Full details here

You can read all the campaigning groups’ reactions to the government announcement here:

Surfers Against Sewage: Government makes U-bend U-turn

River Trust: The devil’s in the detail

Angling Trust: Back paddling up the creek

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