MPs urge Government to stop water firms 'dumping sewage' in the Lake District

Sewage in Lake Windermere, Cumbria. Credit: Matt Staniek

Cumbrian MPs are urging the Government to force water companies to invest in stopping sewage being released into lakes and rivers.

Tim Farron, who represents Westmorland and Lonsdale, spoke during a parliamentary debate on sewage discharges in Westminster Hall.

He said: "In Windermere, there were 71 days last year where sewage was discharged and 112 days in Coniston where sewage was discharged legally.

"The River Eden in Kirkby Stephen – 2,500 hours of sewage were discharged legally. In Morecambe Bay – 35,000 hours of sewage discharged legally.

"So the option here is obvious and that is to force the water companies to invest their profits – not over a 20-year period, but to do it now – to make sure that the water in the rivers and the lakes of the Lake District, the Dales and the rest of the country are not polluted by sewage.

"We must ensure that the environmental risk, the public health risk, the risk to animal welfare and to our economy is not allowed to continue.

"The Government have the power to force these water companies to take the action that they should do. We know that the water companies have the money to do it. Why is the Government not forcing them to do it now?"

Mr Farron’s comments follow the Government announcing in August 2022 its strictest ever targets for water companies, in a plan to tackle the unacceptable sewage discharges in our nation’s waterways. 

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, welcomed the plan which will revolutionise the UK’s Victorian infrastructure following his tireless campaigning on the issue.

A £56 billion capital investment scheme over the next 25 years will tackle the problem of storm sewage discharges by 2050.

Failure to meet these targets could see water companies face substantial fines or having to return money to customers.

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, said: "Im so pleased the Government has responded to my and my parliamentary colleagues’ calls for action and announced the toughest crackdown on sewage discharges in our nation's history.

"For all of us here in beautiful Cumbria, I’m so aware of just how important our precious natural landscapes are, and these measures will see us leave them in a better place than we found them."

The plan will be reviewed in 2027 to consider where the Government can push further, taking into account of innovation and efficiencies.

In addition, the plan sets out our wider expectations for the water industry, to ensure their infrastructure keeps pace with increasing external pressures, such as urban growth and climate change, to ensure our water supplies remain clean and secure for the future. 

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...