There seems to be a real groundswell of opinion regarding sewage pollution in our rivers and it appears that our politicians are starting to take notice. To push harder on this Surfers Against Sewage and Plastic Free Leeds are demonstrating at Rodley in Leedson 22nd October.
The more people there the stronger the message
The strength of public opinion forced the government into an embarrassing last minute climb down on sewage discharges in the Environment Bill of 2021 (Times 26/10/21), they were forced to introduce additional measures to make water companies limit the amount of sewage reaching our rivers and beaches. However many of these measures are long term and the funding for Environment Agency enforcement remains very limited following considerable cuts in funding in recent years.
Recently a number of Environment Agency employees have expressed their concerns over the agency limiting their options to investigate pollution incidents. The repeated funding cuts mean the number of investigators has been reduced over the years, now the agency has a policy of only investigating level three incidents and just recording more minor events. (Guardian 20/1/22).
More good news on the pollution penalty front was the recent statement from the Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena that he will raise the penalty for discharging sewage into rivers from a paltry £250,000 to a refreshingly punitive £250 million. The aim being to make the water companies sit up and take notice and really clean up their acts. (Daily Telegraph 30/9/22)
So it seems that public pressure is bringing some improvement in our rivers and on our beaches. But they are a slippery bunch these politicians and polluters! We need to keep the pressure on both to make sure they follow through with their promises, especially the water companies. A good turnout at the Rodley demonstration will send a firm message to Yorkshire Water. River Worth Friends will be there, we hope others who care about our rivers will also be able to come and make their voice heard.