Rivers Trust welcomes OEP investigation into CSOs

The Rivers Trust welcomes the announcement that the Office of Environmental Protection will be investigating the roles of Ofwat, the Environment Agency and the Defra Secretary of State in the regulation of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in England.

Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust, said: “We welcome this focus from the new environmental regulator on an issue which is very close to The Rivers Trust’s heart. After we made data about the scale of the problem publicly available, sewage overflows have received much more attention in recent years. It will be interesting to see the outcomes of this investigation, which will be a high-profile demonstration of whether or not the OEP will replace the scrutiny provided in the past by the European Commission. The Rivers Trust will be happy to provide evidence to the OEP and make constructive proposals for solutions to this long-standing challenge.”

Christine Colvin, Director for Partnerships and Communications, added: “The current state of our rivers, with over 2.6 million hours of raw sewage discharged in England in 2021, clearly indicates that the system is broken. It’s encouraging to see that the newly formed OEP will tackle this critical issue as a priority. We need to understand where regulation has failed in the past, as well as how it will be strengthened to meet the requirements of the new Environment Act. One thing is clear – the public is fed up with the status quo, and we want to be able to use healthy rivers without risk of exposure to sickness from sewage. We hope this inquiry will ensure the regulators have absolute clarity of purpose, plus the resources to hold polluters to account and prosecute.”



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