CIEH Welcomes UK Government Storm Overflow Plan

31 March 2022, Heidi Douglas-Osborn

CIEH has welcomed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) consultation on the Government tackling storm overflows.

There are approximately 15,000 storm overflows in England, and in 2020 there were over 400,000 sewage discharges which the Government has stated are unacceptable. Water companies will face strict limits on when they can use storm overflows and must completely stop the ecological harm any storm sewage discharges cause to the environment.

The Government has now committed to a step change on action to protect public health and the environment from storm overflow discharges. DEFRA intends to produce a Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan by September 2022, as required by the Environment Act 2021 which will set clear and enforceable targets that the water industry must meet. The consultation will seek views on the targets and other key elements of the Plan.

The proposed plan includes targets such as by 2035, there will be 70% fewer discharges into bathing waters and the environmental impacts of 3,000 storm overflows affecting important protected sites will be eliminated. The consultation is open for six weeks and will close 12 May 2022.

Dr Phil James, CIEH Chief Executive, said:

“CIEH welcomes this step in the right direction in tackling the sewage discharges as well as the requirement for greater transparency from water companies on their storm overflow data.

It is important that sewage discharges into ecological areas and places frequented by the public become exceptionally rare events. We look forward to seeing the results of this consultation and the Government working hard to protect environmental health.”

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