How did MPs vote where sewage alerts were issued? Areas where water is unsafe - and environment bill explained

In October 2021, 265 MPs rejected an attempt to crackdown on sewage discharge with ministers arguing it would have cost up to £660 billion

Popular beaches across the UK have been hit with pollution warnings after raw sewage was pumped into the sea.

Data gathered by Surfers Against Sewage revealed beaches in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon, Essex, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland and Sussex were affected by storm sewage discharge into waterways.

For several years environment campaigners have been working to stop water companies from being allowed to release sewage into the UK’s oceans.

In October 2021, 265 MPs voted with the Government to reject an attempt by the House of Lords to crackdown on the discharge of sewage.

Now MPs who voted against the Lords’ original amendment, that would have stopped raw muck being dumped into rivers and coastal waters, have come under fire once again.

Here are the areas that currently have pollution warnings in place and how the MPs in that area voted on the discharge of raw sewage.

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What was the environment bill amendment vote?

The House of Lords passed a three-and-a-half page amendment to the environment bill, ordering stronger action against firms that discharge sewage into waterways in England.

Amendment 45 forced ministers to make a plan for cutting the number, frequency and length of “storm overflow discharges”, and forced sewage firms and the Environment Agency to publish annual reports.

The vast majority of the amendment was passed, however the Tory government stripped out seven crucial lines before passing.

Those seven lines would have placed a legal duty on sewage firms to “take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows”.

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This would have forced the Government to take action against those failing to do this, which the Conservative administration argued it was too expensive to commit to.

On 20 October 2021, MPs voted to pass most of the Duke of Wellington’s Amendment 45, but with those seven crucial lines deleted.

At the time ministers argued that changing the sewage system to prevent all discharges would have cost up to £660 billion.

It could also have led to sewage being discharged into the homes and streets.

Some 202 MPs, including 22 Tory rebels, voted against watering down Amendment 45.

Which areas have pollution warnings and how did MPs vote?

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Surfers Against Sewage publishes a map with updates showing the latest discharges which reported storm overflows.

Cheshire

  • Dee River - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.

Conservative MP Christian Matheson (Chester) had no vote recorded for the environment bill.

Simon Fell voted for the Government’s watered down amendment. Credit: Parliament

Cumbria

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  • Allonby - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson (Workington) had no vote recorded for the environment bill.

  • Walney Biggar Bank - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Walney Sandy Gap - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Walney West Shore - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.

Conservative MP Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) voted for the amendment to the environment bill.

At the time, Mr Fell said the original amendment from the Lords “came with no plan” and “no impact assessment whatsoever.”

He explained why he voted for the Government's watered-down amendment to the bill.

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He said: “In eliminating storm overflows, we are talking about transforming a system which has operated since the Victorian Era, the preliminary cost of which is estimated to be anywhere between £150billion and £650bn.

“The Government’s view was that it would have been irresponsible to have inserted this section in the bill given that it was not backed by a plan of any detail whatsoever, and certainly no impact assessment.”

Kent

  • Herne Bay Central - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours and bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Tankerton - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours and bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

Labour MP Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) voted against the Government’s amendment.

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At the time Ms Duffield criticised the government for “removing the crucial lines from that particular amendment that had any ‘teeth’ to impose meaningful sanctions on those polluting water companies”.

Rosie Duffield

She said: "The incidents are now no longer rare occurrences but regular events.

"Every time we experience heavy rain in Whitstable, or a storm, we know that we will be unable to enjoy the beach for swimming, sport, leisure activities, or pleasant dog walks around Swalecliffe.”

She added: "We cannot open our windows, hang out our washing and children are breathing in potentially extremely unhealthy particles.

"This has got to stop. It is damaging our daily way of life here and will have a knock-on effect on the local economy as tourists reconsider visiting out beautiful coastal town."

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Lancashire

  • Morecambe North - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours and bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Morecambe South - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours and bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

Conservative MP David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) had no vote recorded for the Environment bill.

Lincolnshire

  • Cleethorpes - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.

Conservative MP Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) voted for the amendment to the bill.

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There was a pollution risk warning at Southport beach. Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Merseyside

  • Southport - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

Conservative MP Damien Moore (Southport) voted for the amendment to the bill.

South Devon

  • Goodrington - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Paignton, Paignton Sands - pollution risk Warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Paignton, Preston Sands - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Ladram Bay - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

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Conservative MP Kevin Foster (Torbay) had no vote recorded for the Environment bill.

Beautiful Gyllyngvase Beach, where storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours. Credit: Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

Cornwall

  • Long Rock - pollution risk warning: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Gyllyngvase Beach - pollution risk warning: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Millendreath - pollution risk warning: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.

Conservative MP’s Scott Mann (North Cornwall), Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and Falmouth), and Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) all voted for the amendment.

Scott Mann published a Facebook post saying there had been “an enormous number of half-truths and misconceptions” about the vote.

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The MP said the Lords amendment would have cost more than £150 billion, which was more than the NHS budget.

He added: “These costs would inevitably be passed onto taxpayers or water bill payers.

“No sensible legislator could have backed this.”

Tyne and Wear

  • Tynemouth Cullercoats - Bathing not advised due to Poor annual classification

Labour MP Alan Campbell (Tynemouth) voted against the amendment.

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Yorkshire

  • Marske Sands - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Redcar Coatham - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Redcar Lifeboat Station - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Robin Hoods Bay - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Saltburn - pollution alert: storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours.
  • Seaton Carew Centre - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.
  • Seaton Carew North - pollution risk warning: bathing not advised today due to the likelihood of reduced water quality.

Conservative MP Jacob Young (Redcar) voted for the amendment.

Despite his vote, Mr Young posted on Twitter on Monday 22 August that the government “tackling this and have required water companies to reduce the use of overflows.”

He criticised the Labour Party, tweeting the Conservative government have done more than the Labour party “ever did”.

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Conservative MP Simon Clarke (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) had no vote recorded, meanwhile both Conservative MP’s Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) and Jill Mortimer (Hartlepool) voted for the amendment.

Ms Mortimer, at the time said: “Make the water companies pay? Well, yes, but where would they get the money from? From us, the billpayers.

“Make the Government pay? Again, where would the Government money come from? From us, the taxpayers.”

She added: “I didn’t vote to dump sewage into our rivers and seas.

“I voted to stop everyone in this country from having to foot the bill of between £150 and £650 billion!”