A COUNTY MP has defended the Conservative party's stance after it came under fire for voting against changes to prevent sewage pollution. 

Last week, MPs voted by 268 to 204 to reject an amendment to the Environment Bill tabled in the Lords which sought to place a legal duty on water companies to reduce sewage discharge into rivers.

Currently, water companies can pump rainwater and small amounts of untreated sewage into rivers through release valves to prevent sewage backing up into homes following heavy rain or storms.


Data released by the River Trust has shown that Severn Trent Water discharged raw sewage for over 550,000 hours in 2020. 

All but 22 Conservative MPs opposed the amendment, including West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin.

She said: “There are three major rivers running through my West Worcestershire constituency and I am acutely aware of the need to properly manage these during serious weather events, and also to protect them for leisure users throughout the year.

“I am glad that the Environment Bill, which I supported seeks to strengthen measures to protect our environment, including our rivers, and I have been disappointed with the misinformation which has been spread over social media on this matter.”

Mrs Baldwin added that her decision will save constituents money.

She said: “The amendments which were proposed by the House of Lords lacked an action plan and would have resulted in a £5,000 increase in household water bills and I did not want to impose that on constituents.

“The Government has outlined significant action to deliver real reductions caused by storm overflows. Water quality remains an absolute priority for me, and I know it is for my constituents as well.”

MP for Worcester, Robin Walker, and MP for Mid Worcestershire, Nigel Huddleston, also both voted against the amendment. 

Both were unavailable for comment.

The decision has come under fire from campaigners as well as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which said it was unacceptable that raw sewage was put into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times in the last year.

The Shadow Defra secretary, Luke Pollard, said: “People are right to be upset at the dreadful state of England’s rivers. Not one English river is in a healthy condition and there has been zero improvement since 2016.

“The Government is to blame for allowing water companies to vent raw sewage into our rivers and sea seemingly at will.”