MPs to vote on Lib Dem amendment to ‘name and shame’ animals killed by river sewage dumps

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The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill will return to the Commons later today for its third reading. The piece of legislation was brought to the lower house by the Brexit-backing Environment Secretary George Eustice in an attempt to advance upon article 13 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, which the UK was a signatory to as a member of the Brussels bloc.

But the Liberal Democrats have added an amendment to the bill which would force the Government to publish the number of animals killed by sewage dumping in rivers every year.

The amendment could also lead to the “naming and shaming” of water companies who are found to dump sewage in rivers which leads to animals being killed.

Speaking about the amendment, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson for rural affairs Tim Farron said: “This is a national scandal.

“Animals are swimming in filth and their habitats pumped full of sewage yet the Government refuses to act.

“Enough is enough, we need to name and shame water companies which are being found to destroy precious wildlife habitats.

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“My amendment would be a game-changer in applying pressure on water companies to act.”

The Westmorland & Lonsdale MP, who led the Liberal Democrats from 2015 to 2017, added: “Every year they would face damning figures on the number of animals killed by sewage.

“There will be no hiding from the facts.

“Above all else, we need an end to these sewage dumps and for water companies to pay for the mess they make.

“The public won’t stomach this nonsense any longer.”

The Liberal Democrats also demand an end to sewage dumping in rivers and have proposed a Sewage Tax on water companies to fund a clean-up of rivers, lakes and chalk streams.

Large water industry firms recorded huge operating profits of more than £2.8billion in 2020/21, including United Utilities which made £602.1million.

However, the amendment comes after a report last month revealed so-called “forever chemicals” used in non-stick saucepans and food packaging were found in otters.

Otters were defined as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List in 2004 and are estimated to have a British population of just 10,300.

Boris Johnson came under pressure last year following a separate piece of legislation regarding sewage in rivers after 22 Tory rebels threatened to scupper a scheduled vote in the Commons to force organisations to show a reduction in sewage overspills over the next five years.

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The Government subsequently made a U-turn ahead of November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow to put in place a duty on companies to “take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows into inland and coastal waters”.

The debate also law Remainers and Leavers face off yet again after the Europhile former Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis said in a now-deleted tweet: “Brexit is causing raw sewage to be dumped in rivers.”

The Eurosceptic Environment Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith responded in the upper house.

Lord Goldsmith, who was unseated by Sarah Olney from the Liberal Democrats in Richmond Park in 2019, said: “He may have been driven to distraction by Brexit but he is not a stupid person, he wants his words to have consequences.

“In this debate on sewage, he has absolutely covered himself in the stuff and so shame on him.”

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