Sunday, June 26, 2022

River runoff causes by-election stink as ‘boys get sick swimming’

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Dumping sewage into the rivers of Devon has become a focus of the crucial by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton after the Liberal Democrat candidate revealed his youngest son had fallen ill after swimming.

Richard Foord, a former army major who lives on the banks of the River Culm outside Tiverton, recounted LatestPageNews his 12-year-old son and one of his friends recently fell ill after swimming in the waterway, where concerns about pollution have been repeatedly raised.

Mr Foord said his son vomited and was in bed for a day while his friend was in bed with a headache for several days. Neither required medical attention and Mr Foord said his son, who he declined to name, is “fine” now.

“But I was certainly concerned at the time,” he said.

While it’s not clear what made Mr Foord’s son and friend sick, he said it could well be explained by the high levels of sewage in local rivers.

Analysis of government data by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that sewage was dumped into rivers and beaches in the South West 42,484 times last year, or about 116 times a day. That included 1,938 discharges of sewage for over 19,000 hours into rivers and beaches in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency, where recent polls have put Mr Foord neck and neck with Conservative candidate Helen Hurford ahead of Thursday’s vote.

“It’s really amazing how much sewage gets into rivers,” said Mr Foord, accusing the government of taking a hands-off approach. “South West Water has had government permission to do these discharges for a very long time.”

The River Culm has been ranked as the eighth most polluted river based on sewage pollution from 58 rivers in England and Wales analyzed by Windrush Against Sewage Pollution.

The Connecting the Culm project, which aims to improve the river’s health, said agricultural pollution in the river’s catchment area is also a major contributor to water quality problems.

In 2015, journalist George Monibot reported that agricultural manure was pouring into the Culm.

He said the Environment Agency, following an investigation, decided not to take action because the “long-term ecological impact on the environment is fortunately small”. The authority knows this, he said, because there is “no evidence of a fish kill”.

Less than three years later, however, significant fish kills were reported in the River Culm, and the Environment Agency has since been forced to replenish fish stocks in the river.

Defra said the Environment Agency has not been able to determine the cause or source of the pollution linked to the death of the Culm fish in April 2019. She said the pollution incidents in 2015 and 2019 were not linked.

Britain’s state rivers have become a campaign issue for Liberal Democrats in the largely rural constituency of Tiverton and Honiton, where Thursday’s by-election follows the resignation of former Tory MP Neil Parish after he admitted he had twice watched porn in Parliament Has.

The state of Britain’s rivers has become an election campaign issue for Liberal Democrats, not just in this part of Devon but across the country.

“This is just one example of where rural areas like this have been taken for granted by the Conservative government,” said Mr Foord. “While the government can take areas like this for granted, it has no incentive to address these rural issues that we’re really struggling with in those parts.”

A Conservative Party source said: LatestPageNews The government has “repeatedly made it clear that water companies need to do better” when it comes to pollution.

Liberal Democrat Lord Oates raised the analysis of sewage in rivers in the Tiverton and Honiton area in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Lord Benyon, Parliamentary Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, responded that it was a “good choice of geography”.

“People who live in this part of the world in places like Tiverton and Honiton … are right to want a government that cleans this up and has a plan to do it without raising their bills to prohibitive levels,” he added . “This government is this one.”

The waterways of the State of England have long alarmed environmentalists, politicians and members of the public with government data showing every river in England is polluted.

In March, water companies admitted they were dumping untreated sewage into England’s rivers, estuaries and seas around 1,000 times a day in 2021, according to government data.

While sewage companies are allowed to do so during periods of heavy rain, the Environment Agency has said they have allowed far too many spills.

The government has attempted to address the discharges and has launched a consultation on its plan to do so.

The Liberal Democrats have announced that they would introduce a sewage tax that would tax the profits of water companies to invest in cleaning up our rivers and coastal areas.

In April, Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons proposed a new sanitation bill that would have named and shamed water companies found to have been poisoning animals with waste water dumps, but the idea was blocked by the government.

The party has also called on the government to force water companies to install monitors ahead of the summer holidays.

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