WASP has been working as part of the team supporting Philip Dunne MP in putting together his Private Members Bill which is due for its second reading on 15th January. Please write to your MP if you haven't already.
These Bills are notoriously difficult to get through Parliament without government support although you may be forgiven for wondering why a government would not be in favour of protecting the country's waters and stopping the water industry using our rivers and seas as dustbins.
Unfortunately, that lack of support has meant that our own MP, Robert Courts, has been unable to add his name to the gowing list of nearly 100 MPs supporting the Bill because, as he has explaned, he is a Transport Minister and part of HMG, so is obliged to refrain from supporting something he has been very much behind at a local level since WASP first met him in 2017.
We have been told that even Thames Water support's Philip's Bill and it looks like the industry already has a growing grasp of the benefit of a clean and healthy environment and finally a recognition of the damage it is doing. Perhaps even the wish to change, not only amongst their staff who have been battling with low investment, but even at board level.
Whether or not the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill gets to the Statute Books, the benefits from the journey are already apparent.
A coalition of groups led by Surfers Against Sewage and including the Rivers Trusts, the Angling Trust, the RSPB, WASP, the Ilkley Clean Rivers Group and more has formed and has been sharing information and coordinating action.
Philip Dunne is also the Chair of the Environmental audit committee and as far back as June he was asking difficult questions of Secretary of State, George Eustice, based on a briefing from WASP.
The noise created by the alliance and the Bill has led Defra to react by forming the Task Force aimed at reducing sewage spilling but that is really a group of all of the organisations that have been responsible for the scandalous situation we find ourselves in. An independent inquiry would seem to be far more appropriate f that is not to just be a cover-up. It certainly lacks transparency and it seems it is already keeping secrets
Which is where the Environmental Audit Committee rightly and properly steps in. It has announced an inquiry into pollution focusing on the water industry and urban diffuse pollution.
The terms of reference can see seen on this link.
This is, in our opinion, the biggest step that has been taken since the privatisation of the industry toward identifying the true problems and failures that will open the way to solutions. The years of the industry hiding behind an under-resourced and poorly led Environment Agency to deliver a low standard of service to keep bills low to in turn satisfy Ofwat's strategy may finally be numbered.
WASP and other groups have plenty of evdence to submit to the enquiry; evidence that usually has to be exposed by the media or disappear into the black hole of discussion with Defra.
Written submissions are due at the beginning of February and WASP will keep you posted
Pulic awareness is a vital part of achieving progress in this campaign so please share with your family friends and colleagues