High Peak MP speaks out after rebelling against Government on controversial sewage dumping vote
High Peak MP Robert Largan has spoken out after breaking a party line which saw Conservatives vote against measures to stop sewage being dumped on Britain’s waterways and coastlines.
On Wednesday, October 20, the Tories voted down an amendment to the new Environment Bill which aimed to impose legal duties on water companies to tackle the dumping of untreated sewage into storm overflows – sparking a public backlash which forced the Government towards a U-bend within days.
Mr Largan was one of just 22 Conservatives to vote against the Government, consistent with his previous support for legislative efforts to address the problem.
He said: “I wanted to send a clear message that more needs to be done to force water companies to stop raw sewage from entering our rivers.
“The amendment was defeated, but I’m still hopeful that we can improve the original Bill further, the aims of which I support overall. It’s a landmark piece of legislation which will do a huge amount to protect our environment and tackle climate change.”
He added: “I’ve always said I’ll be a considered, independent voice, who puts the High Peak ahead of party politics – and I’m sticking to my word.”
During wet weather, storm overflows release diluted wastewater into rivers to prevent sewage systems being overloaded and backing up into homes and business premises.
Last month, a report from the Rivers Trust revealed that effluent had been released into High Peak’s waterways at numerous sites across the borough in 2020.
The Government initially suggested that it would not impose responsibilities on privatised water firms as the anticipated cost would exceed £150billion.
However, following fierce criticism of MPs who voted against the amendment – and the possibility of bigger rebellions in future – on Tuesday, October 26, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced it would bring a forward a new amendment to the Bill – although its content remains to be seen.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Earlier this summer, the Government published new strategic policy priorities for Ofwat and the water sector asking them to significantly reduce the discharge of sewage from storm overflows in the next pricing review.
“Following a debate in the House of Commons last week, we will put that commitment on a statutory footing with a new clause.”