Liberal Democrats call for protected status for rivers in West Berkshire after sewage dumped more than 500 times in 2023

2 Jul 2024
Lee is calling for a new ‘Blue Flag’ protected status for local rivers

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a new ‘Blue Flag’ protected status for local rivers, after shocking figures reveal that Thames Water dumped sewage 561 times in Newbury and West Berkshire during 2023.

Analysis of official data from the Environment Agency by the party shows that in 2023 Thames Water discharged untreated sewage into West Berkshire’s waterways a staggering total of 7,887 hours.

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 is 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. 

Lee Dillon, Liberal Democrat candidate for Newbury constituency, said:

“Newbury and West Berkshire’s precious rivers are being destroyed by years of a Conservative government letting water firms get away with environmental vandalism. This scandal must end.

“It is time we got tough on polluting and profiteering water firms. Conservative MPs have stood by whilst untreated sewage has poured into the gardens and streets, where children play, as well as damaging the biodiversity and ecological health of precious wildlife in local rivers, like the Lambourn and the Kennet.

“The Liberal Democrats have the boldest manifesto on cleaning up our coastlines and rivers. Families should be safe in the knowledge that their rivers and gardens are not polluted with sewage. I want my children to be able to play in places like Bucklebury Ford, like I did when I was a child.”

West Berkshire’s Liberal Democrats have led the way in campaigning against sewage dumping in this area. Nationally, the party recently announced plans to abolish OFWAT, introducing a new regulator with greater powers. This follows its plans for a ban on water company executive bonuses.



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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