After the Suez Crisis hastened the end of Anthony Eden’s Premiership, his wife Lady Eden famously said “I have felt as if the Suez Canal was flowing through my drawing room”. Given the current unease about our polluted waterways the current Prime Minister’s wife may be forgiven for thinking Britain’s polluted rivers run through hers.
There’s a huge and growing coalition of concern about the Government’s lack of action on water pollution. Surfers Against Sewage have done a great job highlighting the state of our coastal waters and after recent torrential rain predictably and rightly residents contacted me about storm overflows polluting some of our local beaches.
Last week the Women’s Institute joined the fray. In May they launched their Clean Rivers Campaign and signed up to the Charter for Rivers. Last week I joined them when they brought their campaign to Westminster during the WI Week of River Action. A warning to any politician and Prime Minister, as Tony Blair can attest, ignore the WI at your peril.
Then the Government added to its own woes by trying to amend the Levelling Up Bill in the Lords to effectively tear up environmental protections which protect water courses when housebuilding happens. Even housebuilders thought that was a bad idea.
Last year water companies discharged raw sewage into English waterways on average 825 times a day. That included dry days. The Government has been too slow to act. Even if their Storm overflow Discharge Reduction Plan is now legally binding it doesn’t eliminate dumping. The Government needs to act now.