1000 hours of raw sewage were dumped from my local sewage works in 2020, 700 hours of raw human waste were discharged in January 2021 alone (that is 23 continuous days). The government’s amendment to the environment bill to prevent this is according to legal and NGO analysis completely unfit for purpose and could make the situation worse!

Forgive the urgent plea, but the text of the amendment was only published after office hours on Friday 5th November (Guy Fawkes Night) for a vote tomorrow (Monday 8th November). So, we want to encourage you to very urgently write to your MP to implore them to vote for the Lords amendment 31C in preference to the government’s proposal 141EC, which is unfit for purpose as the outline letter below makes clear.

Here is the link to get the email address of your MP, please feel free to use our text as a basis for your email. Be firm, but polite, anything that could be considered abusive will be ignored by MPs and not further the case for change. Also do include your residential address and full name in the email, this means that the MP is sure you are in their constituency and that they have a duty to you.

The vote takes place tomorrow (Monday 8th November 2021), so it is urgent to write to your MP as soon as humanly possible. We wish we could have given you more notice, but sadly this amendment was only published on the 5th November after close of business.

Copy, Paste Letter to Your MP 

(Tailor it if at all possible)


I am writing to you as a constituent, sustainable business owner and daily river swimmer, ahead of the Environment Bill vote on Monday, with particular regard to the Lords amendment and the government’s alternative option.

Having read the amendment and seen legal analysis of amendment 31C from the Lords, it does not force an immediate halt to raw sewage discharges or create a bill of up to £600 billion. It instructs water companies to take all “Reasonable” steps to avoid discharge and complete works to stop combined stormwater outfall (CSO) overflows as quickly as “reasonably” possible.

Frustratingly, many of the MP’s who voted against the amendment responded to constituents and claimed that this amendment requires all CSOs to stop immediately and consequently flood people’s homes with sewage instead.  The amendment does not call for an immediate stop, nor do any of the prominent NGOs who are battling this cause.

Now the government has proposed a new amendment to the Environment Bill to replace the text that forces water companies to reduce sewage spills, with one that does not. According to legal opinion and the various credible campaign groups like Surfers Against Sewage, it obligated the water companies to do almost nothing. Worse, it removes the legal right of citizens and NGOs to hold the water companies to account, something that can only be done by government ministers in future.

The amendment calls for a progressive reduction in harm to nature and people of sewage discharges. No timetable, no legal obligations, no enforcability whatsoever. This means that a water company discharging 1000 hours of raw sewage from a CSO today, could discharge 999 hours next year and that would technically be a progressive reduction.

I am sure the government hopes this problem will go from the news agenda after Monday’s vote and once the dust has settled, but it will not. We will see what the full 12 months of 2021 will bring in terms of records for sewage discharges, but as 2020 was a 35% increase on the year before, I am worried. We obviously hope that water companies have cut raw sewage dumping, but it is more likely they have maintained record growth.

Thank you for your time in this matter, I hope that you will be voting for genuinely cleaner rivers, not a bill that is allows the status quote to continue.

Yours sincerely,

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