In a heated Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday ( 25th April ) Preseli Pembrokeshire MP accused Labour of using the issue of sewage as a “political football” and called on Welsh Government to act on the alarming levels of sewage discharges in Wales.
During the debate numerous MPs referred to the fact that Wales is one of the worst affected areas in the UK, with Welsh Government yet to come forward with any detailed plans to tackle the problem of discharges into rivers and coastal waters.
In his speech, the MP voiced his support for stronger regulation of water companies and tougher penalties over pollution incidents. He welcomed the “very clear and practical plan” introduced by the UK Government in England as a step forward on tackling sewage.
Mr Crabb stated, “This is an issue that really matters to me and it matters to my constituents in Pembrokeshire. My constituency in 2021 had 79,000 hours of sewage discharged during the course of the year. It is totally unacceptable.”
During his speech Mr Crabb also paid tribute to local campaigners including Surfers Against Sewage who have been campaigning on this issue in the constituency for nearly 30 years.
Speaking after the debate Stephen Crabb MP said,
“In England there is now a plan for reducing discharges and for tougher monitoring and regulation of the water companies. That is the kind of action we need in Wales. It is clear that public opinion has shifted on the issue of sewage and there is a clamour for real change. This historic practice of discharging sewage into waters is no longer acceptable and requires all governments across the UK to step up and work together. Wales’ sewerage system is old and under enormous pressure from increased rainfall: it needs to be made fit for purpose. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that there is an urgent plan to make crucial infrastructure upgrades and that the Welsh Labour Government has woken up to public feeling on this unpleasant issue.”
As chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee in Parliament, Stephen recently brought together Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales and the regulator Ofwat to examine the problem of sewage in Wales. The evidence hearing highlighted the need for a clear plan in Wales to reduce the volumes of sewage being pumped into open waters. He has written again to call on the Climate Change Minister at the Welsh Government to address these problems and do more to protect Welsh rivers and coasts. He is currently waiting for a response from Welsh Government.