Protect chalk streams from sewage

4 Jun 2024
Victoria Collins

Liberal Democrats call for protected status for Hertfordshire  rivers and chalk streams after sewage dumped more than 200 times across parts of West Hertfordshire in 2023.

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new protected status for local rivers and marine protected areas, after shocking figures reveal that Thames Water dumped sewage no fewer than 214 times in the former constituencies of Hitchin & Harpenden, South West Hertfordshire and Hemel Hempstead in 2023.

Analysis of official data from the Environment Agency by the party shows that Thames Water discharged sewage into the precious chalk streams, rivers and canals of West Hertfordshire for a staggering 1,206 hours in 2023.

In an effort to tackle sewage dumping, the Liberal Democrats have announced a massive expansion of marine protected areas and a new Blue Flag status for rivers will be included in the party’s general election manifesto. The introduction of Blue Flag status would set legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping in those sites, giving special protected status for swimmers and wildlife. 

Harpenden & Berkhamsted’s Liberal Democrats have led the way in campaigning against sewage dumping in the area. Nationally the party recently announced plans to abolish Ofwat, introducing a new regulator with greater powers, which follows its plans for a ban on water company executive bonuses.

Victoria Collins, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Harpenden & Berkhamsted, said:

“Year after year, this Conservative government has allowed water firms to get away with sheer environmental vandalism. Shockingly, our precious waterways are being steadily destroyed. This is completely unacceptable.

“It is high time we got tough on polluting and profiteering water firms, yet Conservative MPs have stood by as swimmers become ill and a precious ecosystem is poisoned by sewage discharges. 

“This scandal has to end now. The Conservative party has failed to protect swimmers and wildlife. 

“The Liberal Democrats will have the boldest manifesto on cleaning up our rivers and coastlines. Families should be free to swim safely in the knowledge that our waters are not polluted with sewage.”

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