Liberal Democrats call for protected status for rivers in Esher and Walton after sewage dumped 129 times in 2023

3 Jun 2024
Monica with volunteers cleaning up local rivers

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new protected status for local rivers and marine protected areas, after shocking figures reveal that Thames Water dumped sewage 129 times in Esher and Walton in 2023.

Analysis of official data from the Environment Agency by the party shows that Thames Water discharged sewage in Esher and Walton’s waterways for a staggering 1560 hours in 2023.

In an effort 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.

Monica Harding, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Esher and Walton, has led the way in campaigning against sewage dumping in the area, recently holding a public meeting to bring together experts and campaigners to call for action. Nationally the party has announced plans to abolish Ofwat, introducing a new regulator with greater powers, which follows its plans for a ban on water company executive bonuses.

Monica Harding, Liberal Democrat candidate for Esher and Walton, said:

“Esher and Walton’s precious rivers have been destroyed after years of a Conservative government letting water firms get away with environmental vandalism.

“It is time we got tough on polluting and profiteering water firms, yet Conservative MPs have stood by whilst swimmers have become ill and wildlife killed by sewage discharges. Dominic Raab, our local MP, didn’t even turn up to Parliament when he had the opportunity to vote for action on this.

“This scandal has to end now. The Conservative party has failed to protect swimmers and wildlife.

“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.”

Notes to Editor:

Liberal Democrat analysis of Environment Agency data of sewage discharges in bathing water sites can be found here.

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