Exclusive:Sewage dumping UK: coastal Tory areas have 5 times more raw sewage spill incidents than Labour areas

Tory constituencies had raw sewage dumped in rivers and seas more than 96,000 times last year - almost five times greater than in Labour-held areas.

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Conservative run coastal constituencies in England and Wales had almost five times more sewage dumping incidents recorded than Labour held areas last year, new research shows.

Raw sewage was dumped into the waterways of 137 coastal constituencies 142,000 times in 2022, according to Labour party analysis of Top of the Poops’ constituency data. In total, almost raw sewage was dumped into rivers and seas for almost 1 million hours over the course of the year, the equivalent of a non-stop continuous flow of sewage taking place for 111 years.

Of the coastal constituencies included in the analysis, almost three-quarters (73%, or 100 in total) were represented by Conservative MPs, many of which had voted to allow the controversial practice to take place in a Commons vote last year. These areas had sewage dumped 96,000 times, representing 68% of all incidents, and totalled to more than 667,000 hours worth of discharges.

In comparison, 30 Labour-held constituencies experienced almost 21,000 sewage dumping incidents last year, representing 15% of all incidents and totalling 111,000 hours worth of discharges. There were an average of 961 incidents in every Tory constituency, 1,5 times more than the average of 686 for Labour areas.

Labour has accused Tory MPs of having “no respect” for their constituents and last week introduced a new Bill to combat the controversial practice of discharging sewage into waterways.

Almost 142,000 sewage discharge incidents were recorded in England and Wales last year. Almost 142,000 sewage discharge incidents were recorded in England and Wales last year.
Almost 142,000 sewage discharge incidents were recorded in England and Wales last year.

Water companies pump sewage into rivers and seas when treatment systems are at risk of being overwhelmed. This usually happens when there has been heavy rainfall. The interactive map further down this article will show you how much raw sewage was dumped in your local area in the past year.

Shadow Environment Secretary, Jim McMahon MP, said: “The first duty of any Member of Parliament is to the people that send them to Westminster. That Conservative MPs are allowing the areas that they represent to be sullied in tonnes of filthy raw sewage, shows they have no respect for the places where their constituents live, work and holiday.”


The Conservative party was contacted for comment but did not reply.

Most polluted coastal communities in England and Wales

Additional analysis by NationalWorld found that 68 MPs who had raw sewage dumped in their constituencies last year actually voted to allow it in last year’s vote, including Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The MP, who represents Suffolk Coastal, had sewage dumped 426 times, equating to 548 hours worth of discharge.

The figure also shows which constituencies are being the most polluted by raw sewage. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in Wales, which is represented by Independent MP Jonathan Edwards, had experienced the most discharges with almost 7,000, equating to more than 57,000 hours worth of discharge. This was followed by Conservative MP Neil Hudson’s constituency, Penrith and The Border, which had just under 6,000 dumping incidents, equating to more than 46,000 hours worth of discharges. NationalWorld’s analysis found seven out of 10 constituencies with the most raw sewage dumping incidents were represented by Tory MPs.


This interactive map will show you how many times raw sewage was dumped in your local authority and for how long. Click on a coastal constituency to see the MP and how many times it was polluted by raw sewage last year.


‘A credible strategy’

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the Environment Secretary has “demanded an action plan” on every storm overflow from every water company in England.

“This government is the first to take such comprehensive action on storm overflows – and our new Plan for Water sets out the increased investment, tougher enforcement and tighter regulation to tackle this issue.”

Paul de Zylva, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the Plan for Water is “unlikely” to fix the situation this decade.

“Our freshwaters and seas wouldn’t be in a state of crisis were the government to properly regulate the companies that are polluting with impunity, or had the Environment Agency’s ability to closely monitor water quality not been undermined by stringent budget cuts.

“There’s certainly no quick fix, but the government’s Plan for Water is unlikely to put things right this decade. Rivers and seas are vital ecosystems which should be teeming with wildlife - we need to be protecting them now more than ever, not trashing them. That’s why the government still needs a credible strategy that will restore our waters to full health.”