Chichester MP Gillian Keegan responds following latest 'sewage vote'
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On Wednesday (January 27), a number of Conservative MPs voted in favour of setting a target for water companies to reduce sewage discharges by 80 per cent by 2038.
The vote angered many and the Liberal Democrats stoked the flames with a list of those who voted accompanying a tweet that read: “Last night, 292 Conservative MPs voted to allow sewage dumping by water companies in our rivers and coasts for at least 15 more years. Can you spot your MP on the list?”
Ex-footballer and crisp frontman Gary Lineker even waded into the debate as many readers of Sussex World and The Chichester Observer called for their MP to explain their vote.
In a statement to Sussex World today (Friday, January 27), education secretary and MP for Chichester, Gillian Keegan said: “The vote on Wednesday targeted one important component of the water quality debate, and set in place ambitious targets to dramatically reduce the presence of certain kinds of agricultural pollution in our waterways.
“This will, in large part, be accomplished by working with key players in the agricultural sector to reduce any potential run-off from agricultural land, but also by pushing water companies to go further in reducing the levels of phosphorous that can make their way into waterways through the wastewater network. We’ve seen these levels fall by 67 per cent in the last two decades, but we’re absolutely determined to see these fall even further through the introduction of tough targets.”
In 2021 Conservative MPs received similar criticism after voting not to force water companies, including Southern Water, to reduce the amount of sewage pumped into waterways and onto the coast.
At the time of writing, Southern Water has been pumping wastewater into Chichester Harbour for nearly 900 consecutive hours – since December 23.
The water company told Sussex World this week: “A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “We understand the concerns raised by this storm overflow, and people’s wider unhappiness with the UK’s existing network of storm overflows. These were designed as pressure valves following periods of sustained rain and rising groundwater levels, allowing increased flows in our sewers to escape into the environment rather than flooding homes and communities.”