Thames Water’s draft 25 year improvement plan risks letting down people in Runnymede and Weybridge, says Dr Ben Spencer MP, who is calling for areas at greatest risk of sewage discharges and sewer flooding to be prioritised.
Earlier this summer Thames Water published its draft drainage and waste water management plan for consultation, setting out how it aims to reduce risks of sewage discharges and sewer flooding and improve water quality from 2025 to 2050.
This follows the Government passing the Environment Act which requires water companies to set out in greater detail the actions they will take to address the issues of sewage overflows into our rivers that are occurring far too many times.
In a response to this consultation, submitted today, Dr Ben Spencer set out his frustration and disappointment that the plan does not appear to prioritise those areas in greatest need, nor envisage improvements being delivered in full until 2050. The issues that need to be addressed are huge, they will not be resolved over night and will require a huge level of investment. Yet this should not prevent the ability to make improvements and reduce risk in areas at greatest risk of sewer flooding at least the medium term.
The plan outlined by Thames Water focuses on high level regional objectives. Yet within Surrey alone there are vast differences in geology, topography, risk profile and population density. With such a variety across Surrey, let alone the whole Thames Valley region, more clarity is needed about not only how risks are identified but how these will be prioritised.
As currently drafted the plan also implies that the physical work on delivering improvements in Surrey would not begin until 2035 at the earliest, as part of the ‘long term’ phase of planning. While the aims and objectives for the plan are positive, the plan for implementation would appear to mean little or no support for residents of Runnymede and Weybridge for at least the next decade, despite Thames Water's own figures showing we are at by far the greatest risk of sewer flooding already. Further details outlining this are available in the consultation response, available below.
Commenting, Dr Ben Spencer MP said:
Runnymede and Weybridge faces some of the highest risks of sewer flooding – greater than the rest of Surrey combined - and is greatly impacted by issues of water quality. Yet as currently framed in Thames Water’s plan there is no clear indication of how areas are being prioritised or how these risks will begin to be mitigated before 2035. Residents and business need assurance and clarity that water quality and sewer flooding will be managed and prioritised, with clear milestones for delivery to address the most serious issues faced by our communities.
Dr Ben Spencer is calling on Thames Water to clarify how works to mitigate sewer flooding and overflows are prioritised, and provide greater detail of how improvements will be delivered in at least the medium term. Having highlighted that he has been in regular contact with Thames Water regarding issues across his constituency since elected in 2019, he has also requested further meetings with Thames Water to press the case for more action to be taken in the areas of highest risk.