The Oldham Liberal Democrats have been shocked to read that North West water company, United Utilities, has the worst record for poisoning our local rivers with raw sewage – and that Conservative MPs chose to back them in a recent vote in Parliament.
Figures published by the Environment Agency show that in 2020 water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers in England more than 400,000 times last year.
Untreated effluent, which includes human excrement, wet wipes, and condoms, was released into waterways through overflows for more than three million hours in 2020.
The biggest offender was North West water company United Utilities which did so for 726,450 hours, almost one quarter of the total.
“Thank goodness, Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger, the four animal characters from Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, are not around today boating and fishing in our local rivers; because if they were having a day out on the Beal, Irk and Tame, they would most likely been poisoned like our other local wildlife is by such discharges,” said Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Shaw Councillor Howard Sykes MBE.
Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs recently backed a proposal from the House of Lords that would have amended the government’s Environment Bill to require the government and water companies to work to reduce discharges of untreated sewage and ‘take all reasonable steps’ to avoid using combined sewer overflows.
The amendment was defeated when 265 Conservative MPs voted against it.
Councillor Sykes added: “The vote demonstrated that when it comes to a contest between profits and public health, most Conservative MPs put profit first. Just like United Utilities, and Britain’s other water utilities, who continue to focus more on making bumper profits and paying shareholders huge dividends than they do on investing to tackle this problem.”
“The Environment Agency has declared that every river in England is polluted; that is why the Liberal Democrats brought a motion to the last full meeting of Oldham Council (3 November) calling on the government and United Utilities to clean up their act and make the Beal, Irk and Tame safe for Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger and their friends again.”