Proposed amendment to the Environment Bill could be a boon for outdoor swimmers

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The Environment Bill 2019-21 currently making its way through Parliament is intended to create targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment. Of relevance to outdoor swimmers will be a requirement for water companies to produce management plans that they will submit to the Secretary of State for the Environment. These plans will set out how the company will manage and develop its drainage system and sewerage system.

MPs Philip Dunne and Richard Graham have proposed an insertion into the bill that will require the plans to report on “the quality and impact of the discharges of the undertaker’s drainage system and sewerage system.”

Stephen Eades, of the independent non-profit campaigning organisation Marinet, explains why this amendment is important and why we should be asking our own MPs to support it.

“The problem is the widespread pollution of UK rivers and coastal waters, and specifically sea bathing waters, by poorly and untreated sewage; and, the absence of long-term management plans to address this.”

Swimming in water contaminated with sewage is more than merely unpleasant. It is hazardous to your health. The proposed amendment, by forcing the water companies to assess the quality and impact of their discharges, will give the Secretary of State for the Environment the legal tools to force them to address the situation.

Marinet, in its recent Sand, Sea and Sewage report, says that the sewerage infrastructure we currently have in the UK is inadequate. What’s more, it says the Environment Agency’s testing regime hides the true scale of the problem through legal but manipulative sampling and reporting practices. It therefore asks outdoor swimmers to encourage their local MPs to support the amendment and has drafted a template letter that can be adapted, signed and sent – see below.

Note: Marinet’s Sand, Sea and Sewage report is available online, click here, or in printed form, contact Stephen.marinet@btinternet.com.

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It would be good to know what goes in here, before swimming


Amendment 200 to Environment Bill 2019-2021. Draft Email for your use.

Subject: Support for Amendment 200 : Environment Bill 2019-2021.

Dear [insert name of your MP]

I am writing to ask you to add your name in support of Amendment 200 to Clause 76 of the Environment Bill which is currently at its Committee Stage in the House of Commons.

This important Amendment, no: 200, tabled by Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, and Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, is designed to tackle the serious problem of sewage pollution of our seas and rivers. View this Amendment here.

Amendment 200 will place a legal obligation upon all the Water Companies in their ‘management plans for drainage and sewerage’ to specifically address the ‘the quality and impact of the discharges of the undertaker’s drainage system and sewerage system.’

A Briefing is provided which explains this Amendment in detail, view here.

The House of Commons Committee will be considering the Environment Bill at the start of November, so I ask you to table your support for Amendment 200 straight away.

Please let me know whether you have added your name to this Amendment.


Yours sincerely

[Insert your name]

[Important: include your address and post code as this is required by MPs to act on their constituents' behalf]


To find your MP, visit: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP

01 Cover November

Issue 43 November 2020

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  • Cold water swimming - why do it, how, and what are the benefits?
  • Our new monthly columnist, Sarah Thomas
  • Olympian Keri-anne Payne on how to make the most of limited pool sessions
  • Elaine Howley on the first Asian woman to swim the Channel, Arati Sah

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