Sewage outfall blocked by wet wipes leading into river

Environment Bill Amendments Passed by Lords – a great first step in strengthening environmental legislation

Last night (Monday 13th September) an important amendment to the Environment Bill was passed in the House of Lords. 

Rebecca Duncan


Last night (Monday 13th September) an amendment to the Environment Bill was passed in the House of Lords, to place a new duty on water companies and the government take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows and requires that they progressively reduce the harm caused by these discharges

Amendment 60, proposed by The Duke of Wellington, Baroness Altmann, Lord Oates and Baroness Quin, carried by 184 votes to 147.

Christine Colvin, Director for Partnerships and Communications at the Rivers Trust, said “We are heartened by the response in the House of Lords to this truly cross-party issue. This substantially strengthens the Environment Bill by clearly placing a duty to ensure untreated sewage is no longer discharged. We know that it won’t happen overnight, but this sets an explicit ambition for government to accelerate investment from the water companies into solving this problem. Equally, it aims to ensure that government agencies will actually use their powers of enforcement. 400,000 discharges of raw sewage from storm overflows in 2020 give clear evidence that this isn’t the case currently.”

The proposed amendment had received widespread public support, with a petition receiving over 91,000 signatures. It had been strongly supported by a coalition of NGOs, including The Rivers Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and the Angling Trust.

The Rivers Trust has campaigned to end sewage pollution for several years now, and publishes its Sewage Map of annual discharges, to allow the public to make informed decisions about river safety. Take a look below.

Back to top