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The day pollution prevention went in the bin.

WASP supporters from all political parties will be disappointed with how the vote went yesterday. The fight against sewage pollution remains a cross-party one with our councillors and supporters from whom we have invaluable support.

WASP with Thames Water operational staff looking at how a lot of people still use the toilet as a bin.

Long may we keep this as a common aim. After all, who thinks it is a good idea to keep dumping untreated sewage in our rivers? Well, for the first time we have discovered there is still a very powerful influence to do just that.

WASP has been listening to the views of specialist lawyers as the debate unfolded over recent weeks and will dissect yesterdays events with care to bring you the truth. Here is a broad review for now.

By rejecting the Duke of Wellington amendment to the Environment Bill, the government put water industry profit ahead of people and the environment and succeeded in making its MPs vote down a section of law that would have required the water industry to take all reasonable steps to end dumping untreated sewage - an activity that is incredibly profitable.

There were some grandiose claims made to sell the weak version and counter the public outcry that followed the last rejection but the truth remains clear - illegal pollution will soon become a protected activity as long as water companies can show they are doing something to reduce it.

Months of illegal sewage pollution will be allowed if it can be shown the industry is taking vague steps to reduce it somewhere

How can that work when the reality is that the industry does not even measure the volume of untreated sewage it dumps and won't do for a long time, so reducing it will be a very vague affair. It took it 8 years to even monitor the basic on/off information for overflows after the industry was ordered to do so in 2013 and many are still not monitored or functioning properly.

The suggestions fed to MPs that to stop pollution would flood people's homes and that the bill payer or even taxpayer would have to fund private companies' infrastructure after years of profiteering and under-investment were misleading nonsense at best.

A more accurate position, based on a report from the Government's own Task Force was that an increase on bills of about £1 a week would deal with a lot of the serious issues. There was never any suggestion that the whole sewer network would have to be dug up and replaced - except by people seemingly trying to alarm people and justify the decision to keep polluting.

The Witney MP Robert Courts voted with the government to keep pollution a profitable activity. I was surprised to see him still using the debunked arguments, albeit amended of the previous grossly misleading numbers but with no apology or explanation for why they disappeared. My offer to discuss the reality of those claims was ignored.

The Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown abstained and seemed to have followed the same government narrative - but not totally and we were exchanging information at the eleventh hour.

It was a sad day to see how little regard had been held for the views of constituents, that a 'we know best' position had been taken. It was even worse that a decidedly shakey set of reasons had been put up as an excuse for doing what the government had instructed and what was clearly not in the interests of communities nor their health and wellbeing.

The question of whether our MP's votes represented their constituencies wishes and interests will be in many people's minds across the country, as will whether it is right for governments to take true representation away using forceful tactics to order a vote to be cast.

However, the battle for clean rivers goes on and this campaign gets stronger with every new person from across the political spectrum who hears about the scandal and is naturally disgusted and appalled at what is going on.

Here is the bottom line. Sewage works that are dumping untreated sewage for months on end, illegally, will still be allowed to continue unprosecuted and unchecked.

As for the much-heralded provision of real-time information about sewage overflows; People will decide whether they are happy to be told when they can use their waters because the water company is not using them illegally as a toilet to make a profit on those days.

Thank you as always for your support.



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