Harlow’s Member of Parliament, Robert Halfon, has released a statement on the quality of the natural waterways in Harlow and across the country.
Speaking after a vote in the House of Commons this afternoon about the continued discharge of sewage into natural waterways, Mr Halfon said, “There is undoubtedly already ‘fake news’ circulating about how I voted in Parliament today on the issue of water quality and sewage discharge.
“It is unfortunate that my political opponents have repeatedly used this important issue to mislead local people, discrediting my voting record and implying that I condone or even encourage the discharge of sewage into the rivers, waterways and seas surrounding Harlow and the UK - these suggestions are completely untrue.
“I love nothing more than spending time in nature and am a passionate advocate for ensuring our natural environment is protected. Indeed, I am clear that dumping sewage in our natural waterways must be a last resort.
“That’s why I have voted in favour of:
- Bigger fines for water companies who do not meet the environmental standards required, such as the record breaking fine handed to Southern Water last year.
- £7.1 billion investment by water companies to improve water quality, including £3.1 billion dedicated to improving storm overflow use and reducing sewage discharge.
- £1.6 billion to launch new schemes across England to build drought resistance and tackle water pollution.
- Establishing the Office for Environmental Protection as an environmental watchdog to hold the Government to account on its environmental agenda.
- A legal obligation on water companies to publish data on storm overflow operations in near real time (within 1 hour) of the commencement of an overflow, its location and when it will end.
“In November 2022, fines for dumping in our waterways reached an all time high. Since 2015, over £141 million has been raised through penalties against reckless water companies. New Government rules mean water companies are now required to invest £56 billion to improve and upgrade our water infrastructure and I’m pleased that fines for water companies polluting our rivers will be reinvested into schemes which serve to benefit and protect our natural environment.
“I am proud to represent a Government that is taking decisive action to tackle the quality of water in our natural rivers and waterways and hold to account the reckless water companies that fail to meet the standard of environmental protection expected to preserve our wonderful natural environment.”