Sewage: Seas and Oceans

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 1st December 2021.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Labour/Co-operative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the recent finding by Surfers Against Sewage that there has been an increase of 87.6 per cent in sewage discharge notifications over the last 12 months.

Photo of Olivia Blake Olivia Blake Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of Surfers Against Sewage's recent finding that there has been an increase of 87.6 per cent in sewage discharge notifications over the last 12 months.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Environment Agency (EA) does not have access to the Surfers Against Sewage notification dataset and therefore cannot comment on the accuracy of spill notifications made by Water and Sewerage Companies (WaSCs) to third party organisations. We expect that, as this data is provided in near real time to Surfers Against Sewage, there will have been limited opportunity for WaSCs to quality assure the raw data to confirm that all the alerts have resulted in spills.

The number of Event Duration Monitors has increased substantially over the last few years to cover over 80% of overflows, and will provide complete coverage by 2023. For that reason, the number of spill notifications has gone up. However, the Government has been clear that the number of spills is unacceptable and has made tackling this a priority. We are therefore the first Government to take concerted action to tackle this historic infrastructure issue, including through the Environment Act.

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