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Is the answer.

And the question is; Who are you going to call when overwhelmed by increasingly cynical attempts by polluters, regulators and the government, to mislead, confuse and even to lie to you?

We have a series of myths to bust, starting with this one which was covered in the media in August but for those who missed it or want to see the most excellent report.

Myth number one.

  1. The Victorian infrastructure is the problem. Wrong.

We have lost count of how many times we have heard the government, MPs, regulators, and water companies bang on about how hard it is to tackle sewage dumping resulting from the Victorian infrastructure.

It's old and, in many cases, falling apart but it's not Victorian - it's just the result of greed and underinvestment.

In May 2022, Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow was quoted by the Somerset Gazette in her constituency: 'Our Victorian sewerage infrastructure has struggled to cope with a growing population and more frequent heavy rainfall resulting from climate change.'

In March 2022 Witney MP, Robert Courts, responding to local environmental groups, he wrote: 'As you will be aware, storm overflows are a feature of our Victorian sewerage infrastructure..'

In April 2023, at the launch of the Plan for Water Environment Secretary, Dr Therese Coffey, referred to the “Victorian sewage network creaking” and a week later wrote “Sewage overflows stem from our principally Victorian infrastructure”.

Common sense told us this was unlikely as most sewage infrastructure came with post-war development but by way of confirmation WASP's analyst, Prof Peter Hammond has shown the Victorian scapegoating to be based on a cynical lie.

A lie, because the water industry, represented by Water UK, knew how much of its sewer infrastructure was Victorian but helped create the illusion that the sewage scandal was somehow rooted in failing sewers over 100 years old rather than the flawed privatisation of monopoly companies exploiting captive billpayers and 'sweating the assets' - simply not replacing deteriorating pipes, to maximise dividends and bonuses.

The government seemed happy to go with a story that shifted the blame from them to the very people who had solved the problem before subsequent generations of government let it slide back into disarray.

By the way, it was the bursting of a relatively modern sewer that killed the River Ray from Swindon to the Thames, not a Victorian legacy.

Here follows a link to Peter's Report - a fascinating read and here is a taste of it.

Victorian Sewer Infrastructure -Peter Hammond
Download PDF • 1.11MB

It was reported in the Financial Times by Gill Plimmer and Ella Hollowood.

And here are some free views kindly provided by the FT. They are limited by number so if one is used up, try the others.

So, no the Victorians are not to blame for the sewage shambles any more than the Romans are for traffic jams on the A40.



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