The return of rain last week saw once again the rivers and the coastline across parts of Sussex being blighted by the unacceptable discharge of sewage. Whilst this practice which dates back to Victorian times helps to protect homes and communities from flooding by stopping the sewers backing-up or overflowing, during periods of large rainfall, it leaves our precious rivers and much enjoyed coastline to take the hit.
In response, I and my fellow West Sussex MP’s immediately summoned the Chief Executives of Southern Water and the Environment Agency to Parliament in the coming weeks to outline a clear project plan with an ambitious timeline to end sewage discharge into Sussex’s rivers and coastline.
We are all angry but whilst some may try and score political points, the reality is that this is an issue which has existed forever, and it is only the better monitoring and reporting imposed recently which makes it more prominent now. Approximately 90% of storm overflows were monitored in 2021, whereas just 6% were monitored in 2016. And by the end of 2023 at the latest, 100% will rightly be monitored. Last year’s Environment Bill puts for the first time ever a statutory obligation on water companies to take steps to eliminate this practice. This must be accompanied by urgent investment in pumping and treatment works to ensure that they do not fail and cause major sewage discharge incidents.
The constituency I represent contains very special habitats in the River Arun, Adur and Rother. I will always work hard to endeavour that they remain pristine.
Separately, I am keen to hear the experience of local small businesses who may be quoted sharp increases in their energy bills. Unlike consumers, businesses do not benefit from the energy price cap and some face big jumps as fixed price deals expire. Please email me if relevant and I plan to use examples from local businesses to help inform Ministers over the coming weeks.