Local environmental campaigners are organising a protest against Severn Trent Plc pouring untreated sewage into the River Severn after MPs voted against proposals to place legal duties on water companies to protect UK rivers last week.
Lydney-based group Friends of Forest Waterways (FOFW) will demonstrate on the banks of the Severn next month (November 20) against the discharge of raw sewage into the river in an attempt to convince the Government to take action "before it is too late".
The group, which came into being in July this year, say they have tested the water and have found it to be "very high" in phosphates and nitrates, meaning it poses a "massive risk" to the Severn and its ecosystem and wildlife.
The campaigners say the sewage is causing an "ecological disaster that the river may never recover from", whilst also polluting our oceans in the process.
While the group says "it may already be" too late to prevent disaster on the Severn, they will protest next month to make Severn Trent and the Government "take note" of the damage the discharge of sewage is causing.
Last week, MPs including the Forest of Dean’s Mark Harper voted against a proposal to the Environmental Bill from the House of Lords to place legal duties on UK water companies to reduce the discharge of raw sewage into rivers.
The proposal was defeated by 265 votes to 202, with MPs claiming that safeguards are already contained in the bill and that new measures would cost millions.
Conservative MPs defended the Government following public outcry, saying that the move would "bankrupt" water companies unless taxpayers were asked to contribute.
Writing in his weekly column in the Forester this week, Forest MP Mark Harper said he voted against the amendment because he wants water companies to be "responsible for their actions".
"The amendment we voted against last week would have brought in a system estimated to cost consumers between £150-600 billion with no cost to the water companies at all. If you pay a water bill and you’re reading this, that’s out of your pocket," he wrote."
During recent tests near the Lydney Sewage Works outlet pipe into the Severn, FOFW members Adrian Lane and Paula Simpson found there to be "very high" levels of pollution present in the river, and reported seeing toiletry items "bouncing around in the water" as well as an abundance of strong smelling foam.
The FOFW demonstration will involve a march around Lydney, which will start from Newerne Street car park at 11am on Saturday, November 20, before heading to Lydney Canal and along the banks of the Severn to the sewage discharge point.
The group says that anyone wishing to speak in support of the demonstration or the cause is welcome to do so.
For more information and further updates, go to www.facebook.com/groups/fofwaterways.