Labour Press Release: A new, interactive map has revealed how our local rivers are being polluted by raw, untreated sewage that has been dumped by private water companies.
Anglian Water, Milton Keynes’ local water company, released sewage into rivers across England for over 390,000 hours in 2020.
The Rivers Trust has shown that this sewage is affecting the River Ouzel and River Great Ouse in Milton Keynes, which are local beauty spots and a haven for wildlife.
Sewage has been discharged into river tributaries and brooks around the city in last year – particularly around Stony Stratford and Wolverton.
There are also two sewer storm overflows upstream of the River Great Ouse, by Towcester and Silverstone, which over-spilled 136 times in 2020 for a total of 2,215 hours.
MK Labour has repeatedly shared its concerns over how the Conservative Government allows this to happen and pollute our waterways, while private companies pocket millions of pounds in profits.
Councillor Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Labour Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Sustainability, said: “These figures are alarming and highlight how private companies are devastating our local rivers. We care deeply about biodiversity and the health of our communities; knowing that our children play in these rivers is sickening.”
The Government’s Environment Agency lets water utilities release sewage into rivers after extreme weather, such as heavy rain.
Last month, Tory MPs – including MK’s Iain Stewart and Ben Everitt – voted to continue allowing companies to dump sewage in rivers. This resulted in environmental backlash, and a video was released showing sewage pouring into the sea at a conservation area for 49 hours.
The Tories soon made a U-turn, backing a move to place a legal duty on water companies to “take all reasonable steps” to prevent sewage discharges.
Councillor Lauren Townsend, Labour Cabinet Member for Public Realm, added: “This Conservative Government has begrudgingly backtracked just to save face. Our local MPs wanted to stand by while our waterways were polluted with sewage, including human waste, wet wipes and condoms, and that is despicable.
“Even with this U-turn, the Conservative Government is still not going far enough to properly protect our waterways.”
The Labour Leader of Milton Keynes Council, Cllr Pete Marland, last month wrote to the Chief Executive of Anglian Water to oppose any discharge of sewage that has not been fully treated into the waterways of Milton Keynes.