Measures to reduce sewage levels in North Devon's waters backed by MP

Keen surfer and North Devon MP Selaine Saxby has backed the private member's bill

Keen surfer and North Devon MP Selaine Saxby has backed the private member's bill - Credit: Conservative Party

Measures to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows will be put into law, the government confirmed this week, as part of an ambitious agenda to build back greener from the pandemic. 

The decision has been backed by North Devon MP Selaine Saxby, who is keen to reduce the amount of ‘inappropriately discharged sewage from storm overflows’. 

During wet weather, storm overflows act to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with a combination of sewage and rain and release diluted wastewater into rivers. However, their use has increased in recent years as climate change has led to greater rainfall and water infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth. 

Reducing the reliance of water companies on storm overflows is important to help cut pollution in waterways, and earlier this year the Government announced it was working with Philip Dunne MP on shared ambitions to tackle high levels of sewage in our rivers, following the introduction of his Private Member’s Bill in 2020. 

This ambition has now been turned into action, with the government confirming that a number of key policies will be made law. This will create three key duties to oversee some of the changes needed to improve our water environment: 

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· a duty on government to publish a plan by September 2022 to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows; 

· a duty on government to report to Parliament on progress on implementing the plan; and 

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· a duty on water companies to publish data on storm overflow operation on an annual basis. 

The government expects to consult on potential options for ways to eliminate harm from storm overflows to take forward later this year. 

Selaine Saxby MP for North Devon said: “This is great news for North Devon - we are introducing new laws to reduce sewage discharge into our waterways. 

 “As someone who loves surfing and is regularly on our lovely beaches, I am all too aware of the horrible impact of inappropriately discharged sewage from storm overflows. Pollution in our waterways is not just unsightly, it is also extremely damaging to our natural environment and to the many animals that thrive there. 

“These new laws will require the Government to publish a plan on reducing sewage discharge into waterways, oblige it to report to Parliament on progress implementing the plan, and necessitate water companies publishing data on storm overflow operations on an annual basis.” 

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