Thousands sign petition to end corporate pollution in UK rivers

The campaign comes as under-fire water companies apologise for repeated sewage spills.

water pollution

The petition was launched by the Good Law Project, a campaign organisation that uses the law for a better world. It notes how Britain’s rivers belong to us all and urges people to add their signature to protect the natural world by stopping water companies from dumping sewage into waterways.

“When you look at a river in the UK, you might see a haven for wildlife, the perfect fishing spot, or a tranquil place to take in the beauty of nature. But water companies don’t see any of that – they just see a place to dump their raw sewage,” says the Good Law Project.

The campaigners add how big companies think they can get away with turning ‘our pristine rivers into toxic sludge,’ noting how the law is on our side, and ‘together we can use it to hold them accountable.’

The campaign has already attracted over 135,000 signatures.

The petition is being circulated as under-fire water company bosses announce an ‘unprecedented plan’ to reduce the 300,000 incidents of sewage pollution that occurred in 2022. This week, water companies in England apologised for repeated sewage spills and pledged to invest £10bn in this decade to help quell public fury over pollution in rivers and seas.

Water UK, which represents 25 companies across Britain, issued an apology on behalf of its English companies and said the public was “right to be upset about the current quality of our rivers and beaches.”

According to figures from the Environment Agency published earlier this year, a total of 301,091 sewage spills were made in 2022, equating to an average 824 a day. The same year, sewage companies and privatised water firms in the UK paid £1.4bn in dividends, up from £540m in 2021. Company executives received annual bonuses that were 20 percent higher than in 2021.

In acknowledgment of widespread condemnation over private companies dumping sewage in rivers across the UK, the chief executives of Thames Water and Yorkshire Water, and the owner of South Water, chose not to accept their bonuses.

The move however was criticised as being too little too late. Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats said:

“This apology and plan just don’t go far enough. For years water companies have arrogantly dismissed the public’s fears of rivers, lakes and coastlines being damaged by sewage discharges.

“This announcement does nothing to match the billions water firms have paid out in dividends to overseas investors, or stop their CEOs being handed multimillion pound bonuses.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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