Shropshire Star

Blue plaques installed criticising Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski over raw sewage issue

Campaigners have installed blue plaques around a town, accusing its MP of "shamefully" voting to dump raw sewage into the River Severn.

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Blue plaques criticising Daniel Kawczynski MP have been installed at various riverside spots in Shrewsbury

Activists also turned up at Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski's office with a bucket full of manure and a toilet to stage a "dirty protest" over the sewage issue.

However, Mr Kawczynski hit back, insisting the group are "spreading disinformation" and trying to present him as a "villain".

The raw sewage issue sparked outrage last year when ministers rejected a House of Lords proposal to put legal duty on water firms to reduce untreated sewage discharges in October.

Since then, multiple protests, including a march in Coton Hill, Shrewsbury, and a group of campaigners wearing fish heads and poo hats at Shirehall, have taken place, calling for action to be taken.

The blue plaques, which have been put up at various locations along the river in Shrewsbury, read: "Daniel Kawczynski 20th October 2021 Voted to allow raw sewage to be dumped in this river. Shameful."

Kenny Anderson, a spokesperson for the Shrewsbury River Action group, said: "You wouldn’t leave a toilet overflowing for 28 years and we shouldn’t do the same with our waterways. The River Severn river lies at the heart of Shrewsbury.

"We all swim in it, boat on it, fish in it, and walk along it on a daily basis. So why isn’t our MP fighting to stop it from being turned into an open sewer?"

However, Mr Kawczynski said the plaques were "vandalism", "don't explain the issue at all" and that it was "sad" that someone had created them, rather than speak directly to him about their concerns.

Daniel Kawczynski in Parliament

"My ministerial colleagues and I are clear that the current use of sewage discharges is unacceptable," he said. "I would like to assure you that tackling storm overflows is a priority and the Government is committed to protecting public health and the environment from storm overflow discharges.

"Sewage overflows are a Victorian infrastructure issue and this is the first Government to take steps to tackle them. The Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan will require water companies to deliver their largest ever environmental infrastructure investment - £56 billion capital investment over 25 years.

"Water companies will have to achieve a number of strict targets, which will require water companies to take measures such as increasing the capacity of their networks and treating sewage before it is discharged, while massively reducing all discharges.

"In September, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs asked water company bosses to write to him with their plans to accelerate investment in infrastructure. Water companies are investing £3.1 billion to deliver the 800 storm overflow improvements across England by 2025. I am assured that Ministers are working with water companies to explore accelerating infrastructure projects.

"Ministers will take forward plans to lift the Environment Agency’s maximum civil fine for individual breaches of the rules. Fines for water companies who seriously breach rules will be increased 1,000 fold, from £250,000 to up to £250 million.

"Last year, the EA and Ofwat launched the largest criminal and civil investigations into water company sewage discharges ever, at over 2,200 treatment works, following new data coming to light as a result of increased monitoring.

"The investigations will look at where sites may be breaching their permits and ensure that companies found to be acting illegally are held to account, up to and including prosecution, which can lead to unlimited fines and companies having to reimburse customers. This follows 54 prosecutions against water companies since 2015, securing fines of nearly £140 million."

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