Water: Pollution and Sewage

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 13 May 2024.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support sports clubs engaged in (a) swimming, (b) surfing, (c) angling, (d) canoeing and (e) other water sports who have impacted by water pollution and sewage discharges.

Photo of Robbie Moore Robbie Moore The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government is committed to improving the quality of our coastal and inland waters for the benefit of the environment and everyone who uses it. The Environment Agency takes over 7,000 samples each year at England’s 424 designated bathing waters, which are used to determine the annual bathing water classifications. These classifications are displayed on signage at bathing waters and online on the Environment Agency’s Swimfo website, to allow bathers to make informed decisions before entering the water. Defra welcomes applications for bathing water designations in England for both coastal waters and inland waters such as lakes and rivers. Anyone, including swimming clubs, can apply to designate a site as a bathing water by following the application guidance available at: Designate a bathing water: guidance on how to apply - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The Government is clear that the amount of sewage discharged into our waters is unacceptable. We have taken a series of actions to require water companies to improve how they manage wastewater.  For example, we have set ambitious targets through the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan to reduce the use of storm overflows. This will drive the largest infrastructure programme in water company history: estimated at £60 billion capital investment in 25 years. To support these targets in the near term, water companies have committed to £180m of new funding over the next year to help tackle sewage spills. This is a new investment committed by water companies to deliver enhanced maintenance programmes to improve the sewer network and is expected to prevent more than 8,000 sewage spills polluting English waterways.

These measures will benefit swimming, surfing, angling, canoeing and all other water sports.

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