MPs from across Sussex hosted a meeting in Parliament on Wednesday 22nd March with Southern Water CEO, Lawrence Gosden, and Environment Agency CEO, Sir James Bevan, to discuss the action that has been taken to tackle sewage discharge.
During the meeting, the MPs raised the topic of the Government’s new legally binding targets on combined sewage overflows with the water company and heard about the company’s Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force which will implement a £2.8 billion plan to end sewage discharges and water pollution.
The MPs heard from Sir James Bevan of the Environment Agency that water quality in the UK is in now cleaner than at any time since the Industrial Revolution due to regulation introduced in the last 10 years by the Government.
In August 2022, the Government launched the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan, which will deliver the largest ever environmental infrastructure investment - £56 billion over 25 years. This is an ambitious plan which prioritises storm overflows that have the potential to cause the most harm while balancing the impact on consumer bills.
After MP’s called for action, the water regulators (the Environment Agency and Ofwat) also recently launched the largest criminal and civil investigations into water company sewage discharges ever, at over 2200 treatment works, following new data coming to light as a result of the increased monitoring, which has been driven by the Government.
Andrew Griffith MP, Member of Parliament for Arundel & South Downs, said:
“West Sussex residents are rightly concerned about the health of our rivers but we must not confuse new data with it being a new problem. The truth is the issue has been there for many decades and it is this Government that is finally doing something about it. Southern Water and the Environment agency were left under no illusion how important it is that they act.”