Wakefield MP launches campaign to tackle sewage dumping in city’s rivers
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The River Calder and the River Aire, the two main rivers in Wakefield district, are the second and third most polluted rivers in the country.
In 2022, there were 1,316 discharges of raw sewage into Wakefield’s rivers and waterways totaling 5,816 hours- the equivalent of eight months.
Since 2016, there has been 1,276 years' worth of raw sewage dumped into British waters.
The campaign invites residents to feedback their experiences of seeing sewage and pollution in the rivers and waterways of Wakefield and to pledge their support for Labour’s plan to clean up our rivers and waterways.
On Friday, Mr Lightwood joined local politicians including Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Ossett and Denby Dale, Jade Botterill and Deputy Leader of Wakefield Council, Jack Hemingway, to highlight the serious problem at points along the River Calder.
All three highlighted “the cavalier attitude from water companies who have continuously and systematically allowed our rivers to become an open sewer.”
They further criticised the government for “being asleep at the wheel and allowing water bosses to continue unchecked and leave residents feeling the effects of the polluted waters and all while seeing their water bills rise.”
Mr Lightwood said: “The level of sewage dumping we are having to put up with is unacceptable. Water companies have been getting away with this practice for too long because the government is asleep at the wheel.
“We need to bring accountability back to our water industry with mandatory monitoring, automatic fines for sewage dumping and proper oversight to hold water bosses to account where they break the rules.
“I urge local residents to visit our campaign website at www.simonlightwood.org.uk/sewage and add your name to the growing number of people calling on the government to end Wakefield’s Sewage Scandal.”
Jade Botterill, PPC for Ossett and Denby Dale, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see sewage being dumped into our rivers time and time again without any accountability.
“We have such beautiful countryside in Ossett and Denby Dale, but this has been tainted by the raw sewage routinely discharged into our rivers.
“We need to stand up and demand action from both the water companies and the government to clean up our rivers and give people the confidence to enjoy our rivers and waterways.”
Jack Hemingway, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment on Wakefield Council, said: “It’s a damning reminder of the Conservative’s 13 years of failure that Wakefield has to deal with the second and third most polluted rivers in the country.
“In Wakefield we love our rivers. They provide haven for wildlife and an avenue for watersports and other leisure activities, yet the Tories have allowed our rivers to become open sewers.
“We need proper action now to clean up Wakefield’s rivers.”