Motion on sewage discharges passed by East Riding of Yorkshire councillors

East Riding of Yorkshire councillors have backed calls to lobby for action on sewage discharges into local waterways but some took issue with claims farmers were also dumping with impunity.
Liberal Democrat David Nolan’s motion was passed by councillors.Liberal Democrat David Nolan’s motion was passed by councillors.
Liberal Democrat David Nolan’s motion was passed by councillors.

Councillors passed Liberal Democrat leader Cllr David Nolan’s motion calling for Environment Agency funding to be restored to tackle the issue and for more inspections and action against offenders.

Cllr Nolan said it was a disgrace that nothing had been done to stop discharges from 154 East Riding sewage storm overflows last year.

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But conservative councillors Charlie Dewhirst and John Holtby said farmers were subject to more waste disposal regulations than ever in response to the motion stating they were hardly ever inspected. Councillors passed the motion with references to farmers removed.

The debate followed an outcry sparked by the blocking of an Environment Bill amendment in October which would have toughened rules on the use of storm overflows for sewage discharge.

Storm overflows are mechanisms used to discharge foul water into waterways and the sea to stop them being overwhelmed when they reach peak capacity. Current regulations state they can only be used in exceptional circumstances.

But figures from the Rivers Trust showed one overflow in Skeffling, Holderness, discharged water 153 times for the equivalent of 161 days, 3,885 hours, last year.

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Other overflows across the East Riding including at Brough, Hessle, Goole, Bridlington and Withernsea were among those which discharged sewage for thousands of hours in total.

Cllr Nolan said the discharges were a terrible advert for the East Riding, a popular rural and coastal tourist destination.

The Liberal Democrat said: “Our rivers are being polluted but nothing is happening, water companies and farmers are acting with impunity.

“Raw sewage not only affects our rivers, it also affects people and the economy, no one wants to paddle in sewage.”

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Conservative Cllr Richard Meredith, chair of the Environment and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee said he also supported the motion.

But he added the council was already looking into the issue with water companies and claimed the motion, while well meaning, was little more than arm waving.