A BORDERS MP has hit back at accusations the UK Government gave the green light to water companies to dump raw sewage in rivers.

A proposal from the House of Lords that would have placed legal duties on firms to reduce discharges was not included in a vote at Westminster last week.

However, John Lamont – who represents Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – says that reports that his party voted in favour of allowing raw sewage to be dumped into rivers are "complete misinformation".

He told the Border Telegraph: "Any suggestion that MPs voted to allow raw sewage to be pumped into rivers is complete misinformation. Indeed, the opposite is true.

"Those who have been peddling these falsehoods on the internet over the last few days should be ashamed."

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Although the Scottish Government oversees environmental issues in Scotland, the River Tweed flows from the Borders into England at Berwick.

However, following backlash from members of the public and environmental organisations, the government has now said it will write into law that water firms will have to make a "progressive reduction" to the amount of sewage discharged into UK rivers and waterways.

Environment secretary George Eustice said: "We've listened to the debate in Parliament [and] we will write what was already government policy into [law] to give people the reassurance they seek."

Yesterday (October 26) the House of Lords voted in favour of the amendment from the Duke of Wellington asking that a duty be put on "sewerage undertakers to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows into inland and coastal waters".

The amendment requires water firms to "demonstrate improvement in the performance of sewerage systems" and "secure progressive reductions in the harm caused by untreated sewage discharges into inland and coastal waters".

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The Lords vote passed with 213 peers voting 'content' and 60 'not contents'.

The duke's amendment will now be debated by parliament at a later date.

Tom Rawson, who is the founder of GreenTweed Eco and the Great Borders River Clean, told us that sewage pollution has been "highly visible" during recent river cleans.

Mr Rawson said: "Wet wipes and sanitary items collected during events like the Great Borders River Clean are highly visible evidence that raw sewage continues to be discharged, legally and systematically, into our river systems.

"However, many people remain oblivious to the fact that something so disgusting and damaging has become normalised on rivers and streams across the Tweed system."

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Amendment 45 of the Environment Bill means that the government will have to make a plan for how to tackle discharge from storm overflows by September 1, 2022.

The proposal made by the House of Lords which was not included in the amendment of the Environment Bill voted on last week asked that a duty be placed on "sewerage undertakers to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows".

Storm overflows are designed to protect buildings from flooding during heavy rainfall.

According to Surfers Against Sewage, across the UK untreated sewage was discharged into waterways 400,000 times last year.

Speaking to this paper before the UK Government changed its position, Mr Lamont added: “This important Environment Bill takes meaningful steps to combat this problem with sewage. However, they are rightly based on attainable plans.

“Initial assessments of The Duke of Wellington’s amendment, show that it could cost anywhere between £150-660 billion to fully replace the Victorian sewerage systems. These costs would fall directly on taxpayers and household budgets.

“Here in Scotland, the environment is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and sewage has spilled directly into Scottish waterways 12,000 times during 2020.

“There clearly needs to be more work by everyone on this, but we need to be realistic and honest about spending plans."