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Government Ministers must ‘match rhetoric with action’ and vote to protect Portsmouth’s environment – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP is calling for the government to back changes to the Environment Bill which would place a legal duty on water companies not to pollute Portsmouth’s waterways.

The change to the Bill, which has cross-party support, would ensure “world leading protection” for waterways across the country, according to charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Without the proposed change, water companies would not be required to take immediate action to tackle sewage pollution, meaning the state of local waterways could continue to decline indefinitely.

The charity has claimed the government would be at risk of undermining its own manifesto pledge to leave the environment in a better state than it found it.

It comes after recent reports from the Environment Agency of an ‘abnormal situation’ in Eastney on October 9.

The Portsmouth MP has written to the regulator demanding answers on what conversations it had with the local water provider Southern Water, in addition to a range of actions Mr Morgan has taken to clean up the city’s bathing waters.

In the local MP’s constituency alone, sewage was pumped into local rivers for at least 617 hours in 2020, according to data from The Rivers Trust.

In July, Southern Water was handed a record £90m fine by the water regulator for thousands of illegal discharges of sewage, which polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“As we approach Cop26, the government has an opportunity to match its rhetoric on protecting our environment with action.

“Southern Water’s record shows that the current system in place to protect Portsmouth’s waterways, including Langstone Harbour, is not fit for purpose.

“Southern Water spent the equivalent of nearly a month last year pumping sewage into local waters, and it’s high time now something is done to address this chronic problem for our city.

“Proposed changes to government legislation would force industry to live up to their responsibilities and I hope all of our region’s parliamentary representatives will do the right thing and vote to properly protect our environment.”

The City MP is set vote for the amendment backed by Surfers Against Sewage and other environmental groups in the House of Commons tomorrow evening.