A decade ago, around 80% of Britain’s bathing waters were rated excellent; over the last 10 years, that has fallen by 20% to around 60%. And of course, the downside is not limited to reduced access to bathing: the environmental consequences of this pollution are severe.
The Lords agreed an amendment to the Environment Bill which would place a duty on water companies and the government take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows and require that they progressively reduce the harm caused by these discharges.
Last week, 265 Conservative MPs voted to overturn the amendment, which was duly rejected. There are however some glimmers of good news:
- 70 Conservative MPs did not vote at all and 22 had the courage to vote against the government and in favour of the amendment
- The amendment was defeated by 265 votes to 202 — a majority of only 63: if the abstainers had voted against, the amendment would have stood
- If the Lords stick to their guns, MPs will have a second chance to vote on the amendment this Wednesday, 27 October.
We therefore still have time to get a message to Conservative MPs before Wednesday, making our feelings clear. Here is an easy way to write to them.