Urgent steps required to ensure ‘robust action’ on water pollution following alarming statistic disc

Updated: Oct 21

The Shadow Minister for Climate Change – Janet Finch-Saunders MS – has called on the Welsh Government to tackle water pollution events through the implementation of legislation that makes clear that water companies should take steps to address all recurring pollution incidents and mitigate the risk of others.

In a wide-ranging contribution, Mrs Finch-Saunders spoke of a recent situation in Deganwy, where a number of residents complained to her office about floating raw sewage and a horrendous odour. She criticised the work of Natural Resources Wales, to whom she reported the incident after a slow response by Welsh Water/ Dŵr Cymru.

Speaking of the need for action, Janet said:

“Having undertaken research on this issue, I am profoundly concerned about the number of releases by Dŵr Cymru made through each combined sewer overflow over the last four years. Using the 12-24 block counting method, in 2020 alone, there were 104,482 spills recorded. “As I have repeatedly said, one pollution incident is one too many. These figures indicate that we have a combined sewer overflow crisis in Wales. Therefore, it is plain to see that urgent and considered Welsh Government action is now required, including to address issues around enforcement by Natural Resources Wales. “Rather than non-statutory Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans, I have asked the Welsh Government to consider whether the situation could be tackled via legislation which makes it clear that water companies must take steps to address all recurring pollution incidents and mitigate the risk of others.”

The Shadow Minister also raised concerns that planning applications are at a standstill due to new targets for phosphate pollution in rivers.The Home Builders Federation have outlined that the delivery of all new homes, both affordable and private, are being affected in numerous authorities including Monmouth, Newport, Carmarthenshire, Wrexham, Flintshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Brecon Beacons National Park, and Powys.

Referencing this concern, Janet said:

“Whilst I am familiar with the SAC Management Oversight Group, the Planning Sub Group, and NRW Project Board with its several work-streams, the Welsh Government must clarify how a local planning authority is to demonstrate nutrient neutrality when there is no agreed solutions nor guidance offered.”


Notes to Editors:

  • The number of spills recorded by Welsh Water using the 12-24 block counting method:

  • 2018: 48,158

  • 2019: 73,517

  • 2020: 104,482

  • To date in 2021: 59,275

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