Local Conservative MPs vote against criminalising water companies for sewage spills

17 May 2024
Dirty water pouring from pipe into water course

Local MPs Farris and Redwood vote against law to criminalise water companies for sewage spills - and Sharma and Rodda don't even show up!

- A Liberal Democrat amendment in Parliament would have seen water companies in court for the worst sewage offences
- The Environment Agency backs calls for water company bosses to face criminal action
- Conservative MPs voted down “justice for swimmers, wildlife and our natural environment” - and Labour MPs abstained

On Wednesday evening, Conservative MPs including local MPs Laura Farris and John Redwood voted against a new law which would have seen water companies in court for sewage spills. 

The vote in Parliament took place on the same day a BBC report found sewage had been illegally dumped in the UNESCO protected Lake Windermere in the Lake District. Meanwhile sewage continues to blight communities in our area, including Hampstead Norreys, East Ilsley, Sulhamstead and others.

The new law, opposed by Conservative MPs, would have created criminal offences for failing to meet pollution performance commitment levels, ensuring the polluting firms would go to court and face punishments including fines. 

The Environment Agency has previously called on water company Chief Executives and board members to face criminal charges, including court imposed fines. 

Despite cross-party support for the amendment, over 250 Conservative MPs voted against it, including Laura Farris, the MP for Newbury (which on the abolished boundaries includes most of the Pang Valley), and John Redwood, MP for Wokingham.  Alok Sharma, the current Conservative MP for Reading West, and Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East, both abstained - along with the entire rest of the Labour party.

Helen Belcher, Liberal Democrat candidate for Reading West and Mid Berkshire said:

“It is shocking that Conservative MPs in our area have voted against this tough action on polluting water firms - and that Alok Sharma and Labour didn't even vote. 

“This is a national scandal which has blighted our own community. Water companies should have their day in court for environmental vandalism. 

“This law would have delivered justice for swimmers, wildlife and local rivers, yet Conservative MPs shamelessly opposed it and Labour didn't have the courage to even turn up. They simply don’t care about our environment and protecting swimmers and residents from the blight of sewage spills.

“Our community in Reading West and Mid Berkshire needs a new MP who will get tough on water firms rather than protect them from the consequences of their own shortcomings. At the next General Election, I will pledge to stand up for our environment and vote to get a grip on polluting companies.”

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