The Welsh Conservatives have reiterated calls to overhaul Wales’ “Victorian” sewer system following an increasing number of storm overflows.
The UK Conservative Government has outlined measures to tackle storm overflows with plans that will implement ambitious targets for water companies to reduce discharges by 80%.
Water companies will face strict limits on when they can use storm overflows and must completely eliminate the ecological harm any storm sewage discharges cause to the environment and significantly reduce discharges to protect public health under new plans unveiled by the Government today (31 March).
Under the proposed plan:
- By 2035, the environmental impacts of 3,000 storm overflows (75%) affecting our most important protected sites will have been eliminated;
- By 2035, there will be 70% fewer discharges into bathing waters – last year that would have resulted in 4,620 fewer discharges into our bathing waters during the bathing season;
- By 2040, approximately 160,000 discharges, on average, will have been eliminated (40% of the total); and by 2050, approximately 320,000 discharges, on average, will have been eliminated (80% of the total);
The Welsh Conservatives have called on the Labour Government to implement similar measures in Wales to clean up our waterways.
The Welsh Conservatives are also calling on Labour to ensure water companies report on discharges from storm overflows within an hour of the discharge beginning, a requirement that water companies in England are subject to by the Environment Act 2021.
In February, it was revealed that raw sewage has been dumped into Welsh waterways more than 100,000 times in just 12 months.
Commenting on the news, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Janet Finch-Saunders MS said:
“For years, Labour Ministers have failed to deal with the pressing issue of storm overflows in Wales resulting in avoidable flooding and pollution. This must change urgently.
“It is becoming ever clearer that NRW is not fit for purpose under Labour’s management. Underfunded and understaffed, the organisation needs urgent reform if it is to undertake its roll seriously.
“Labour Ministers need to create an Independent Office for Environmental Protection and Climate Change for Wales in order to hold public bodies to account in protecting our environment.
“The UK Conservative Government are, once again, leading the way when it comes to addressing environmental issues. Its time Labour Ministers caught up.”