Conservative Sheffield MP explains why she voted against crackdown on dumping sewage in rivers

A Sheffield MP who voted to block an amendment that would have reduced the amount of raw sewage being dumped in rivers has explained why.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 3:53 pm

Miriam Cates, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, recently voted to reject an amendment by the House of Lords on the Environment Bill.

The amendment would have required companies to reduce the harm caused by raw sewage discharges.

Almost all other Conservative MPs voted the same, meaning the amendment did not pass.

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Sheffield MP Miriam Cates who voted to block an amendment that would have reduced the amount of raw sewage being dumped in rivers has explained why.

Some constituents in Sheffield and across the country have criticised the decision.

Ms Cates said: “This vote is another example of the law of unintended consequences. I of course agree that sewage should not be entering rivers and streams, and this is not allowed to happen unless the sewage system is overwhelmed during heavy rain or flooding. However, the only alternative at the moment is to pump excess sewage onto the streets and into people’s homes.

“Releasing into rivers is not a sustainable solution, and so we do need a comprehensive and costed plan to eliminate the need for storm overflows of this kind. However, the amendment that we voted on had no plan to actually achieve this and no idea of the cost. All it would have done is bankrupt the water system, leave taxpayers and consumers with huge bills, and in times of heavy rain would lead to homes and businesses being flooded by raw sewage.

“This is an incredibly complex problem that requires a genuine effort to solve it. The Bill as it stands forces the Government to work with water companies to come up with an achievable and fully costed plan to resolve this issue within a year. That is the responsible way to stop sewage from entering our rivers when there is flooding and protect our environment for the long term.”

All other Sheffield MPs, who all represent the Labour Party, voted in favour of the amendment, these are: Paul Blomfield (MP for Sheffield Central), Louise Haigh (MP for Sheffield Heeley), Gill Furniss (MP for Brightside and Hillsborough), Olivia Blake (MP for Sheffield Hallam) and Clive Betts (MP for Sheffield South East).