I WOULD like to respond to Rebecca Roncoroni’s comments last week (CP, 21-10-22) about my views on sewage discharges and the cleaning up of our rivers and beaches.

Ms Roncoroni attacks me, and by association, the government’s environmental record.

These are the facts:

First, this Conservative government has brought in laws which significantly advance the cause of environmental clean-up in the UK.

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Specifically, the Environment Act is a landmark piece of legislation which will set long-term, legally binding targets to improve the health of our rivers; improve water use and efficiency; halt the decline in wildlife populations; increase total tree cover; halve the waste that ends up at landfill or incineration; and make significant improvements in the condition of Marine Protected Areas.

Second, Ms Roncoroni claims that I voted to support pollution because I did not support a proposal by a duke from the House of Lords, which envisaged a vague end to storm overflows.

This proposal would not have protected our waterways because, to put it bluntly, it was both unachievable and unrealistic.

The poorly thought-out amendment to the new environmental laws implied an unaffordable rebuild of the UK’s Victorian sewage and drainage system, costing hard-pressed families hundreds, if not thousands of pounds extra a year.

It would also have taken years, if not decades, to complete.

By contrast, the Conservative government’s Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan (published August 26, 2022) will require water companies to deliver the largest environmental infrastructure investment programme in their history.

Third, earlier this year, after Southern Water received significant fines for pollution off Sussex, I persuaded the company to prioritise the IW as one of their national best practice schemes.

The result will be a multi-million-pound investment designed to significantly reduce sewage and storm overflows into seas around the Island.

So, the Island will be one of a small number of national ‘pathfinder’ sites, which will act as examples of best practice.

My focus is on achieving real results and a better deal for the Island — exactly what I have been doing for the last five years, regardless of whether that is more capital investment in our public services, or indeed helping to bring in ground-breaking legislation to ensure that the Island’s rivers and beaches are a national priority for environmental clean-up.

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