Liberal Democrat Candidate Zöe Franklin’s “fury” as Guildford Conservative MP votes against law to criminalise water companies for sewage spills 

17 May 2024
ZF River Wey Sewage
  • Angela Richardson joins fellow Conservative Party MPs to vote down “justice for swimmers, wildlife and our natural environment”  
  • Vote held on the same day illegal sewage dumping in Windermere is revealed, and after sewage dumping in Guildford’s waterways doubled in a year 
  • Liberal Democrat amendment in Parliament would have seen water companies in court for worst sewage offences  
  • Environment Agency backs calls for water company bosses to face criminal action 

The Liberal Democrat amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill called for new criminal offences to be created for water companies that fail to do enough to tackle sewage spills. 

The vote in Parliament fell on the same day it was revealed millions of litres of raw sewage had been illegally dumped in Windermere, England’s largest lake and part of a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

Guildford Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Zöe Franklin said: “The illegal dumping of millions of litres of untreated sewage in Windermere is sickening. This relentless environmental vandalism up and down the country must be stopped.  

“The timing of this vote has really hit home for me. My party has broken down Environment Agency figures by area and has revealed sewage dumping in the waterways of Guildford and our villages has soared.” 

Comparing the latest Environment Agency figures for Guildford, 2023 to 2022: 

  • the number of times Thames Water dumped sewage in our area increased by 55%  
  • the number of hours of sewage pollution virtually doubled, up by 98% 

Zöe Franklin continued: “Time and again the Conservative Government’s actions show their hollow words as the cynical posturing they are. 

“Just hours after the Windermere scandal was revealed, Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson followed other Conservative MPs and voted against the Liberal Democrat amendment. It would have made it a criminal offence to fail to tackle sewage dumping.  

“Once again, the Conservatives chose to side with the privatised water companies. I am furious at this betrayal of us and our environment.” 

The new law, opposed by Conservative MPs, would have created criminal offences for failing to meet pollution performance commitment levels, ensuring the polluting firms would go to court and face punishments including fines.  

The Environment Agency has previously called on water company Chief Executives and board members to face criminal charges, including court-imposed fines.  

Zöe Franklin added:  “I am appalled that Guildford’s Conservative MP voted against this tough action on polluting water companies. 

“It is a national scandal which Liberal Democrat analysis shows is also blighting our own community.   

“This law would have delivered justice for swimmers, wildlife and local rivers. 

“I stand ready to be the MP Guildford and our villages deserve. An MP who instead of delivering lip service and empty words will stand up against failing Thames Water and the privatised water companies.”

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