Wessex Water spent more than 565,000 hours pumping raw sewage into the West of England’s waters since 2016, new figures obtained by Labour show.
According to Labour’s analysis of data from the Environment Agency, the water firm spent 565,066 hours discharging sewage between 2016 and 2021 into the natural environment, including bathing spots such as rivers and lakes – spoiling areas of natural beauty and risking public health.
That figure is an increase of 1,999 per cent over five years, the analysis shows, a damning indictment of 12 years of Tory failure to hold water bosses to account.
But if it you thought it couldn’t get worse, Labour uncovered that while in 2016, the Environment Agency recorded 1,416 sewage spills in the region, by 2021 that figure had rocketed to 23,524. This equates to a shocking average of a sewage spill taking place every 50 minutes.
The Labour Party, which obtained the data under Freedom of Information laws, has warned that the full scale of pollution could be much worse.
Dan Norris, Labour’s West of England Metro Mayor, blasted successive Tory governments for allowing water giants to cut corners to “pump filthy raw sewage into our waters”. He said firms have failed to invest in better infrastructure to address the problem, preferring instead to pay dividends to shareholders and bonuses to top executives. He said: “The Tories continuing to allow water giants to cut corners and pump filthy raw sewage into the West of England’s waters isn’t just an attack on our precious natural environment, it’s a public health catastrophe. Local people shouldn’t have to worry about whether their local beauty spots are sewage infested. Enough is enough. Only Labour can clean up the 12 years-worth of Tory mess by ensuring water bosses are held legally and financially accountable for their recklessness with our rivers and lakes, and by toughening up regulations that allow the system to be abused.”
The new data comes amid revelations that the current zombie Tory government shelved sewage discharge reduction plans earlier this month – but has since u-turned due to public pressure.