Lib Dems call for 'sewage tax' for water companies

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey visit to chalk stream in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire 09/04/22

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey visit to chalk stream in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire 09/04/22 - Credit: LDRS - CambridgeshireLive

Anglian Water and other water companies should be taxed to pay for sewage ‘dumped’ in rivers to be cleaned up. 

The call for a ‘sewage tax’ was made by Liberal Democrats when Lib Dem leader Ed Davey joined the local election campaign trail in South Cambridgeshire. 

Cllr Pippa Heylings said more needed to be done to tackle sewage dumping in rivers. 

The group highlighted data from Anglian Water that showed St Ives had the third longest sewage spill last year, lasting for over 5,800 hours, and Ely had the tenth longest at nearly 4,000 hours. 

Mr Davey and Cllr Heylings said water companies should be taxed on profits to pay for river and lake clean ups in the region. 

Cllr Heylings said: “After the government failed to put a stop to the discharge of raw sewage, these new findings leave a bad taste in the mouth. 

“Water companies such as Anglian Water have gotten away with this for far too long, particularly when they’re making billions in profits each year. 

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“The Tories need to get much tougher with water companies. 

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey visit to chalk stream in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire 09/04/22 - L-R Cl

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey visit to chalk stream in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire 09/04/22 - L-R Cllr Sally Ann Hart, Cllr Pippa Heylings, Ed Davey, Cllr Susan van de Ven, Cllr Jose Hales - Credit: LDRS - CambridgeshireLive

“We need a sewage tax so these water companies can clean up the mess they’ve made. 

Mr Davey said: “Water companies are making huge profits and you could take some of those profits and invest them into the infrastructure works, working with local communities so we can clean up our rivers. 

“We can stop that sewage being dumped, it is quite awful this filthy sewage being dumped into our rivers and the lack of action and that is an issue we are fighting on locally and nationally.” 

An Anglian Water spokesperson said: “Data from our 2021 CSO monitoring programme tells us our performance continues to improve, and the increasing visibility we have of CSO activity gives us even more opportunities to act faster in the areas where we can have most environmental benefit. 

“But we know we need to do more. As part of our recently launched Get River Positive commitment, we’ve set out a clear plan and demonstrable action in response to calls for a revival of rivers in England. 

“Central to the pledges is to ensure that storm overflows are not the reason for unhealthy rivers in our region by 2030.”