Council Motion: Save our Rivers

The Green Liberal Democrats have produced a template Council Motion to help you campaign on the the recent Sewerage Scandal. You can find a full campaign pack from ALDC on this issue here and the text of the Council Motion is below.

This Council notes that:

  • Every river in England is now polluted beyond legal limits.
  • The Environment Agency rated only 14% of rivers as ‘Good’ in 2019.
  • This chemical pollution is mostly caused by sewage discharges from water companies and the run-offs of nutrients from farms.
  • 36% of English rivers have been damaged by water companies.
  • In England, water companies released untreated human waste directly into our waterways over 400,000 times for a total of 3 million hours in 2020 alone.
  • Government funding to the Environment Agency to monitor river quality, and regulate farms and water companies has dropped 75% since 2010/11.
  • In 2020 just 3.6% of pollution complaints made to the Agency resulted in penalties.
  • Farms are now almost never inspected, water quality is rarely tested, and water companies can pump raw sewage into rivers with virtual impunity.
  • In addition, tyre particles, metals from brake pads, and hydrocarbons from vehicle emissions wash off road surfaces and into rivers introducing potentially carcinogenic material into the water supply.
  • Our LOCAL RIVERS are particularly threatened by further sewage discharges.

Council believes that, as host nation of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021, the UK Government should commit to:

  • Restoring Environment Agency budgets to deliver the necessary oversight.
  • Increasing inspection regularity of water companies and farms, and rigorously prosecuting offenders through the Environmental Audit Committee and Ofwat.
  • Funding local and highways authorities to introduce systems to prevent road pollutants from entering our water courses.

Council resolves to request the Chief Executive write to:

  • The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs calling for the Government to make these commitments as host nation of COP-26.
  • The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee to advocate for greater enforcement of existing regulatory powers.
  • The Chief Executive(s) of LOCAL UTILITY COMPANY(IES) calling for urgent action to address the impact of waste-water discharges on our local rivers.
  • The Regional Director of the National Farmers’ Union requesting clarification on the action being taken locally by farmers to prevent nutrient run-off.
  • The charities River Action and The Rivers Trust expressing this Council’s support for their campaign to restore the health of Britain’s rivers.

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