In November I launched the Morgan's Hill Rivers Group of MPs through whose constituencies run the three rivers - the Bristol Avon, the Hampshire Avon and the Kennet - that rise in the district around Morgan's Hill, north of Devizes (see here for the short video launching the group).
We campaigned for the Government to make three instructions to Ofwat, the water regulator: to ensure the water companies make the necessary investment in pipes and treatment works to stop sewage overflowing into the rivers; to invest in nature-based solutions for water health; and to enforce the rules on sewage spills, with proper monitoring and more fines.
I'm delighted that the new Strategic Policy Statement for Ofwat, issued by DEFRA today, includes almost everything we asked for. It's a major step forward for better river health. My thanks to Ministers - and I look forward to watching Ofwat and the water companies make it all a reality.
Charlotte Hitchmough, Director of river conservation experts Action for the River Kennet, whom I have worked closely with on this campaign, also welcomed the statement. She said, 'this is an important and fundamental change showing that sewage pollution in rivers like the Kennet is no longer acceptable. Whilst this is great news we would like to see more specific detail on how the new regulation of the water Industry will be enforced'.