Rivers: Pollution Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 11th June 2019.

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Photo of Paul Farrelly Paul Farrelly Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to upgrade drainage systems to treat pollutants before they reach rivers.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Since water industry privatisation in 1989, around £25 billion has been invested to reduce pollution from sewage, covering improvements in sewage treatment and in sewer overflows. In England, between 2015 and 2020, water companies are investing over £3 billion to improve their sewerage infrastructure. This has helped to achieve a 61% reduction in the amount of phosphorus load and a 72% reduction in the amount of ammonia discharged from sewage treatment works since 1995. In addition, 7,000 sewer overflows have been improved since 1995, reducing the impact of pollution from sewage discharges.

The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan contains a number of actions to achieve our aim of clean and plentiful water, including increasing the uptake of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). SuDS features such as permeable surfaces, storage tanks and ponds, can help improve water quality as well as reduce the risk of surface water flooding. A revised National Planning Policy Framework, which further encourages SuDS in new developments was published on 24 July 2018.

In addition, Government recently consulted on proposals to improve long-term planning for drainage and wastewater management.

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