Raw sewage in local river back in political focus


Local Councillors vote for action as MP demands meeting with Thames Water chief

The state of our local waterways is once again firmly in focus with both local Councillors and Banbury’s MP stepping up moves to address raw sewage being dumped in our rivers.

At Monday night’s full meeting of Cherwell District Council a motion was passed to bring in a strategy so that dealing with sewage becomes a part of the local planning process.

Councillors heard that only 14% of the UK’s waterways are in a good ecological condition.  A motion by Councillor Nick Cotter accused the government of failing to hold the water companies to account.   It suggested Cherwell should work with Thames Water to increase transparency and minimise discharges into Cherwell’s waterways.

The motion proposed that a local strategy be developed that puts sewage treatment at the heart of the local planning process.   It also requested that from 2023 Thames Water clarify which treatment works would manage sewage from new developments, together with the likely impact this would have on the number of sewage discharges into watercourses.   This information should be included as part of the reporting process for all future major developments.

The motion was passed unanimously.

During his summing up Councillor Cotter took the opportunity to berate Banbury’s MP for voting against a bill to outlaw sewage discharges into local rivers.   But Victoria Prentis has announced that she is taking action and has requested a meeting with the Chief Executive of Thames Water to discuss what progress is being made to reduce sewage discharges.

Mrs Prentis said: “The River Cherwell is a much-loved stretch of water that flows through North Oxfordshire, rising in Northamptonshire and ending in Oxford. Many of us locally, including my own family, enjoy bathing in the river and its waterways. We are all understandably concerned about what is being done to safeguard our river and limit sewage discharge into it.

“The Government’s recently introduced storm overflows discharge reduction plan sets stringent new targets to protect people and the environment. Through the passage of the landmark Environment Act last year, we also placed a commitment to deliver a resilient and sustainable water supply, and significantly reduce the frequency and volume of discharges from storm overflows, on a statutory footing.”

She added: “The Government has been clear that while storm overflows are necessary to avoid sewage backing up in our streets, water companies should work towards ending their reliance on them. While I welcome the huge progress that has been made so far there is still more work to be done.”

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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