Outrage over wastewater vote prompts Conservative MPs to defend their decision on social media | Pollution


The government launched a defensive social media campaign after MPs faced anger from their constituents over last week’s sewage vote, in which an amendment to the environmental bill that would have imposed a legal obligation on water companies not to discharge waste into rivers was rejected.

Many Tory MPs released almost identical statements Monday morning after a weekend of anger over the vote. Government sources confirmed to the Guardian that the information in the messages was provided by No 10.

MPs such as Steve Brine, Ben Everitt, Michael Manufacturer, Anne Marie Morris, and Sally-Ann Hart have posted similar “explanatory” about voting on their websites.

They argue that the amendment did not include an impact assessment and that the costs of immediately banning wastewater discharges would be too great.

The statement reads: “Eliminating storm overflows means turning the entire Victorian sewage system into a whole new sewage system.” It would be irresponsible for a government to spend an estimated preliminary cost of between £ 150bn and £ 650bn to transform the entire sewage system. That’s a huge sum to spend in ordinary times, not to mention an ongoing health pandemic.

“To give some perspective, £ 150bn is more than the entire Schools, Police and Defense budget put together and £ 650bn is billions more than that. that we have spent to support livelihoods and jobs throughout the health pandemic. “

Only 22 Tories rebelled against the government last week, after Environment Secretary George Eustice urged MPs to vote against the amendment.

Martin Salter, chief policy adviser of the Angling Trust, said: pollution of sewage for the benefit of even more endless surveillance.

“There is clearly going to be a battle between the Lords and the Commons on this important issue and we intend to keep the pressure on for as long as possible.

“Our rivers are very polluted and cannot wait for more plans and reports. This seriously calls into question the government’s commitments to leave the environment in a better state than when it took office.

A massive social media campaign involved voters posting photos of their MPs online and asking why they voted against the amendment.

Former Undertones frontman Feargal Sharkey, who has been a driving force behind the campaign, was vying for a rather different number one as he rallied his fans on Twitter to continue to pressure their MPs. He said: “The current trend at number 3 in the UK is #Sewage. Let’s make it number 1. “

Health Minister Maria Caulfield criticized those who lobby their MPs on social media.

She said: “None of us voted to dump sewage into the sea and those who spread lies and disinformation should bow their heads in shame. Don’t ask why MPs get death threats if you’ve been part of this #toxic today. “

The vote came seven weeks after the government allowed sewage treatment plants to dispose of untreated sewage due to a shortage of chemicals resulting from a lack of truck drivers.

The wastewater measure, introduced into the Lords by the Duke of Wellington, is due to return to the upper house on Tuesday, where it is expected to be returned to the Commons for another MPs vote.

There were 403,171 sewage spills in the rivers and seas of England in 2020, according to the Environment Agency, totaling more than 3.1 million hours of spills.

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