Water quality matters. It matters for the health of people participating in river and coastal activities, such as swimming, fishing, and paddling. It matters for thriving freshwater and marine ecosystems, with their diverse range of species. And it matters for consumers who can experience foul flooding if drains are backed-up. We all want to preserve and enhance our local environment for future generations.
We can all remember the monster fatberg in Sidmouth. 93% of the material that causes sewer blockages comes from wet wipes. And wet wipes are the third most common type of litter found on beaches. I believe the case for an outright ban is now overwhelming.
Residents have frequently been in touch with me about water quality concerns ever since the passing of the Environment Act brought water quality into national focus. The DEFRA Secretary told me the government is now drawing up the targets that water companies must achieve to significantly reduce their reliance on storm overflows.
Successive governments failed to take action. I am glad the right steps are now being taken, despite politically-motivated claims to the contrary.
I am keeping up a regular dialogue with South West Water about their plans to invest in East Devon and urgently fix specific local problems as and when they do crop up. Recent meetings alongside Lympstone Parish Council, Bishops Clyst Parish Council, Woodbury Parish Council, and Sidmouth Town Council have been an opportunity to address residents’ concerns in granular detail.
Regarding the foul flooding in Clyst St Mary, I secured compensation for residents by working with the parish council. Long-term solutions clearly are needed with much better data, too. South West Water are taking steps forward to identify and fix issues in the village every time there is heavy rainfall.
As your MP, I will continue to hold South West Water to account to help protect our rivers including the Exe, Clyst, Otter, and Sid. East Devon District Council’s draft Local Plan includes new housing predominantly in the west of the district. New homes should only be built if the local infrastructure can cope with it.
*This column first appeared in the Exmouth Journal on Wednesday 15th June 2022 and in the Sidmouth Herald later in the week.*
Picture caption: Simon Jupp MP with Susan Davy, Chief Executive of South West Water at Maer Lane Sewage Treatment Works, Exmouth