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Rivers and Waterways

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 29th January 2015.

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Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry The Second Church Estates Commissioner 9:30 am, 29th January 2015

What steps she has taken to improve the cleanliness of Britain's rivers and waterways.

Photo of Stephen Metcalfe Stephen Metcalfe Conservative, South Basildon and East Thurrock

What steps she has taken to improve the cleanliness of Britain's rivers and waterways.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have made good progress and cleaned up more than 10,000 miles of our rivers. Pollution from sewage has gone down significantly. During this Parliament, phosphate pollution will fall by a fifth and ammonia by a sixth. This shows that a healthy environment goes hand in hand with a healthy economy.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The River Cherwell and the Oxford canal will soon appear proudly on Cherwell district council’s new coat of arms as being two of the most valued and precious amenities in the district. Am I right in thinking that the total of rivers whose water quality has improved under this Government now exceeds the length of the Amazon and the Nile combined? What more can be done to ensure that our rivers and canals continue to become cleaner?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My right hon. Friend mentions two fine rivers, and I have been on the River Cherwell, a very fine river. He is absolutely right. We have cleaned more than 10,000 miles of river and we will shortly put in place our new countryside stewardship scheme, which will enable farmers to get grants to improve water quality even further.

Photo of Stephen Metcalfe Stephen Metcalfe Conservative, South Basildon and East Thurrock

The Thames is not only England’s longest river, but east of here and down to my constituency it is also the most populated. What steps are the Government taking to clean up the river, while balancing the needs of the users and flora and fauna?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the River Thames. It is vital not only for London but for our whole country, and it is unacceptable that at present raw sewage is regularly pumped into the Thames. That is why we are taking action, through projects such as the Thames tideway tunnel, to reduce that vastly.