UK ‘threatening marine life’ in France as raw SEWAGE dumped into English Channel08/25/2022
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Pollution warnings have been issued for almost 50 beaches in England and Wales, after heavy rain caused sewage overflow to be diverted into rivers and the sea. Now a trio of French MEPs have accused the UK of neglecting environmental commitments and risking marine life and fishing. British water companies insist they are investing in solving the problem.
Government officials refuted allegations the UK had neglected its environmental commitments since Brexit as “simply not true”.
Despite no longer being bound by EU laws, the UK remains a signatory to relevant United Nations conventions on protecting shared waters, which the MEPs argue should prompt action from the European Commission.
The three MEPs all belong to French President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-EU En Marche party. One of them, Pierre Karleskind, chairs the European Parliament’s fisheries committee.
He said the UK could not be allowed to jeopardise 20 years of European progress on water quality standards, he argued.
The MEPs also warn that in the short term the sewage leaks risk bathing waters on the French coast and could also harm marine biodiversity, fishing and shellfish farming.
Normandy politician Stéphanie Yon-Courtin said: “The Channel and the North Sea are not dumping grounds.”
Most of the UK has a combined sewage system, so wastewater from toilets is carried to sewage treatment works through the same pipes as rainwater.
The European Commission’s spokeswoman said: “We will take the matter further as appropriate.”
To prevent homes and public spaces from being flooded after heavy rains, the system is designed occasionally to overflow and discharge untreated sewage into rivers and the sea.
A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was “untrue” that the UK was not holding itself to water quality targets.
Surfers Against Sewage reported 654 alerts of sewage overflows spilling into UK water, from 171 locations in England and Wales.
Meanwhile, Water UK, which represents water and wastewater companies, said its members were investing £3billion to tackle overflows as part of a national programme to improve the environment, the Michigans Thumb reported.
“Water companies can’t do this alone, which is why we’re also calling for government, regulators, water companies, agriculture and other sectors to come together as soon as possible to deliver a comprehensive national plan to bring about the transformation in our rivers and waterways we all want to see,” WaterUK said.
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