Foord calls for protected status for rivers after record sewage dumping uncovered

3 Jun 2024
Richard Foord standing at a podium next to a presentation slide reading "The End Sewage Pollution Manifesto"

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new protected status for local rivers and marine protected areas, after shocking figures reveal that South West Water dumped sewage 6,688 times across east Devon in 2023.

Analysis of official data from the Environment Agency by the party shows that South West Water discharged sewage into local waterways for a staggering 66,598 hours in 2023.

To tackle sewage dumping, the Liberal Democrats have announced a massive expansion of marine protected areas and a new Blue Flag status for rivers will be included in the party’s general election manifesto.

The introduction of Blue Flag status would set legally binding targets to prevent sewage dumping in those sites, giving special protected status for swimmers and wildlife – allowing for stronger action from regulators.

Richard Foord has consistently campaigned against sewage dumping, accusing the Conservatives of ‘neglecting’ the issue and branding South West Water a ‘polluting firm’.

Nationally the Liberal Democrats have announced they would abolish Ofwat, introducing a new regulator with greater powers, which would build upon their push for a ban on water company executive bonuses.

Richard Foord, Liberal Democrat candidate for Honiton & Sidmouth, said:

“Our cherished rivers and beaches have been flooded with filthy sewage due to years of a Conservative government that has sat back and let water firms get away with environmental vandalism.

“It is time we got tough on these polluting and profiteering water firms, yet at every turn Conservative MPs have shirked taking real action and stood by whilst swimmers have become ill and local wildlife has been killed by sewage discharges. 

“This sewage scandal must end now. The Conservative party has failed to protect swimmers and wildlife, voting to allow 15 more years of sewage dumping and is letting these wayward firms off the hook.

“The Liberal Democrats will have the boldest manifesto on cleaning up our rivers and coastlines. Families should be free to swim safely in the knowledge that our waters are not polluted with sewage.”

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