More than 7,500 days’ worth of raw sewage dumped in ministers’ constituencies

By Helena Horton

A Surfers Against Sewage protest in Cornwall in 2022. The sewage scandal has become a hot topic at the local elections

More than 7,500 days’ worth of raw sewage was dumped in the constituencies of cabinet ministers last year, an analysis has found.

The Yorkshire seat of the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, was third on the leaderboard, with 3,455 dumping events, lasting 20,615 hours, Labour party analysis has found.

The Central Devon seat of Mel Stride, the secretary of state for work and pensions, topped the list with 4,054 sewage dumping events lasting 33,921 hours, while the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency of the chief whip, Simon Hart, was second, with 3,783 dumping events lasting 29,415 hours.

Labour analysis of Environment Agency data, ranked by constituency by website Top of the Poops, shows that in 2022 raw sewage was discharged into cabinet ministers’ constituencies for 180,759 hours. This equates to an average of 64 sewage dumps a day, or a new sewage dump taking place every 22 minutes.

The sewage scandal has become a hot topic at the local elections, and the government recently released a plan to tackle the issue of raw waste being dumped into waterways. However, the environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has said she believes the infrastructure needed to stop the spills is too expensive.

She also wrote this week in the online magazine ConservativeHome that she believes Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been “scamming” the public by drawing attention to the issue.

The shadow environment secretary, Jim McMahon, said: “The first duty of any member of parliament is to the people that send them to Westminster. That Tory cabinet ministers allow the areas that they represent to be sullied in tonnes of filthy raw sewage shows they have no respect for the places where their constituents live and work.

“The next Labour government will build a better Britain, ending the Tory sewage scandal by delivering mandatory monitoring on all sewage outlets, introducing automatic fines for discharges, setting ambitious targets for stopping systematic sewage dumping and ensuring that water bosses are held to account for negligence.”

McMahon recently introduced the water quality (sewage discharge) bill, which proposes four measures: setting a legal requirement for the monitoring of all sewage outlets and penalties for failures in adhering to monitoring requirements; imposing automatic fines for sewage dumping; implementing a legally binding target to reduce sewage dumping events; and a requirement for the secretary of state to publish a strategy for the reduction of sewage discharges and regular economic impact assessments.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “By bringing in proper monitoring of storm overflows – up from 7% in 2010 to 91% now – this government has enabled the extent of sewage discharges to be revealed so that we are better equipped to tackle it.

“Our new Plan for Water sets out the increased investment, tougher enforcement and tighter regulation to tackle the issue. We have recently confirmed £1.1bn in new, accelerated investment to tackle storm overflows, delivering a reduction of 10,000 discharges per year.”


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