ON TUESDAY (April 25) in the House of Commons, Conservative MPs voted down a Labour bid to introduce draft legislation aimed at bringing an end to sewage discharge.

Labour had tabled a motion that sought to secure time to consider its Water Quality (Sewage Discharge) Bill.

This would require water companies to reduce discharges from storm overflows by 90 per cent by the end of 2030, as well as introducing automatic financial penalties for sewage dumping.

But MPs voted 290 to 188 in favour of the Government’s amendment to Labour’s motion, which deleted mention of its bid to introduce draft legislation.

The Journal/Pioneer/Chronicle contacted the six MPs based on the North Wales coast to find out why they voted the way they did on Tuesday:

Hywel Williams (Arfon) and Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) – both Plaid Cymru – both voted against Government’s amendment to Labour’s motion

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: “Plaid Cymru were supportive of this motion on the grounds that there are rivers that straddle the Wales/England border, and so this legislation would have some impact on water quality in Wales.

“We also support the push for an impact assessment on the impact of sewage discharge as understanding the full consequences would be beneficial to policy makers in Wales.

“The UK Government introduced an amendment which deleted the section of the motion which would have required the UK Government to introduce the Water Quality (Sewage Discharge) Bill.

“Plaid Cymru voted against the amendment as it diluted the original motion. Plaid Cymru MPs abstained on the motion as amended for the same reason.”

Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) – Conservative – voted for Government’s amendment to Labour’s motion

Mrs Crosbie said: “Water quality is a devolved matter and Labour has a woeful record on dealing with it in Wales.

“However, I am delighted the UK Government has made water companies adhere to legally binding targets on eliminating sewage spills into our rivers and seas by 2050 in England.

“I voted for it and welcome it, along with a raft of measures this government has put in place to improve the environment and tackle climate change through the ground-breaking Environment and Agriculture Acts.

“However, it will take time and many billions of pounds to eliminate pollution of our waterways from storm overflows following decades of underinvestment in our largely Victorian waste network.


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“It was this Government that put in monitoring to understand the problems in the first place and then acted to force the water companies to spend billions on starting to solve it.

“But there is a reality those who oppose the government never tell the public. If we shut off storm overflows right now, sewage would back up into our homes, gardens, schools and hospitals.

“Fixing storm overflows right now could cost billions and billions with water bill payers facing huge rises immediately to help fund it.

“No responsible Government listens to people who advocate this sort of financial and ecological wrecking ball is deployed on our communities.

“Instead, the Government is working hard to sort out this expensive and complex issue as fast as it can.”

James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) - Conservative – voted for Government’s amendment to Labour’s motion

Dr Davies said: “The motion I supported, which passed in the Commons on Tuesday, was that this House calls on the Government to set a target for the reduction of sewage discharges, to provide for financial penalties in relation to sewage discharges and breaches of monitoring requirements, and to carry out an impact assessment of sewage discharges.

“I was pleased to do so in the knowledge that the UK Government is already fulfilling all of these requests, by way of the Environment Act 2021, and has an ambitious £56bn programme to progressively reduce storm overflow discharges. 

“These targets are being placed into law.

“In Wales, environmental issues have been devolved since 1999.  The Labour Welsh Government has not yet introduced, nor announced their intention to, create similar legislation relating to storm overflows.

“In 2022, the average frequency of discharges under the Labour administration in Wales (38 per overflow per year) was notably higher than in England (22 per overflow per year). 

“Of the longest sewage discharges in Britain in 2022, the top two were in Wales.

“I am pleased that the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee has been scrutinising the unacceptable situation in Wales.”

David Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West, said he did not vote on Tuesday as he was “away on a committee visit overseas”.

Attempts were also made to contact Robin Millar, Conservative MP for Aberconwy, who voted for the Government’s amendment to Labour’s motion.