Doubt over Shropshire MP's clean rivers bill as pandemic causes fifth delay

Doubt is being cast over a Shropshire MP's bill to clean Britain's rivers of sewage as the pandemic causes it to be delayed for a fifth time.

Philip Dunne MP
Philip Dunne MP

Philip Dunne's Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill had been due to have its second reading on Friday, having been postponed numerous times.

But due to further coronavirus restrictions being brought in affecting the House of Commons programme, it has been deferred for a fifth time.

The second reading will be key to determining if the bill can advance and become law, despite it gaining mass support from more than 100 cross-party MPs and various environmental groups.

The Ludlow MP said his bill, which is the first put forward in his 16 years as MP, may become "lost legislation".

Mr Dunne said: "This Friday my bill to clean up our rivers from sewage pollution was due to have had its second reading debate in the House of Commons.

"This has now been deferred for the fifth time, thanks to Covid restrictions. This was my first opportunity to bring forward legislation of my choice in 16 years as MP. I was determined to pick a topic that would deliver meaningful change, with a real chance of becoming law.

"I have received incredible support from 106 MPs of all parties supporting the bill or its objectives, showing it is not party political – it is purely about righting a clear environmental wrong."

The Private Members Bill seeks to place a duty on water companies to ensure untreated sewage is not dumped into inland waters.

Mr Dunne added: " I am hopeful that despite there being no debate on this bill, the measures it contains have not just raised the profile of campaigns to end sewage pollution, but still have a real prospect of helping reduce the impact of sewage polluting our rivers.

"The objective of my bill is to start encouraging water companies to take more responsibility – and give them more tools – for preventing sewage entering our waterways.

"But is not just up to water companies alone. Some have led the way in new nature based solutions, like Severn Trent Water piloting integrated constructed wetlands. But we all need to change how we use water and what we flush down our drains.

"It is unfortunate I will not be leading a debate on Friday, but I am optimistic at the prospects of taking the bill’s objectives forward through other routes, with strong public support."

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