Lord Adonis branded ‘bitter and dishonest’ by furious Zac Goldsmith after Brexit remarks

Farmer speaks out over sewage being pumped into a local river

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The arch-europhile claimed the UK’s new post-Brexit environment laws were the reason for sewage being dumped in rivers. Tory MPs last week voted down an amendment to the Environment Bill that would a have put a legal duty on water companies to stop the practice.

MPs voted by 268 to 204 to reject the amendment put forward by the Duke of Wellington.

Ministers argue sewage has been allowed to be displaced into rivers for years and the Environment Bill will still reduce the practice.

They say the new post-Brexit legislation will “crack down on water companies that discharge sewage into rivers and will include a world-leading legally-binding species target for 2030, aiming to halt the decline of nature and to protect beloved British animals, such as red squirrels and hedgehogs”.

But critics say the Government should have gone further and banned the practice altogether.

Some have used the issue to try and blame Brexit for sewage being dumper in waters, by drawing attention to the fact the Environment Bill is part of post-Brexit legislation.

Lord Adonis said: “Do you remember Brexiters telling us in 2016 that they wanted to pump raw sewage into rivers and the sea as a Brexit dividend for the private water companies?

“That’s what the Etonian Brexiter Zac Goldsmith is proposing in the House of Lords today.

“Oh and he calls himself green.”

He added: “Brexit is causing raw sewage to be dumped in rivers.”

Reacting with anger, Lord Goldsmith, who is an environment minister in Boris Johnson’s administration, said more was being done now than ever before.

“What a ludicrous creature he’s morphed into. Bitter, malignant and fundamentally so dishonest,” he said of Lord Adonis.

“Sewage has been pumped into waters for decades – including on his watch.

“The Environment Bill goes far far further than any previous legislation on this and clearly there’s much more to come.”

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According to the Environment Agency, in the last year raw sewage was discharged into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times.

Sewage can be pumped out of the sewerage system and into rivers through combined sewer overflows – otherwise known as a storm overflow or release valve.

The overflows are designed to release excess water following heavy rain or a storm to stop sewage backing up into homes.

Water companies are allowed to release the rainwater, and a smaller amount of untreated sewage, into the country’s waterways.

Downing Street has defended the Government’s actions on sewage discharges.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We completely agree the current failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges is unacceptable.”

He added the intentions of the measures being pushed by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords were “already being delivered” in the Environment Bill.

The Lords will debate the legislation again this afternoon.

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