Here in Tameside, we are blessed with some fantastic green spaces.
It’s something that our community is rightfully proud of.
Groups such as Friends of the Tame Valley, whom I’m proud to be the Secretary of, do incredible work protecting and preserving the landscapes that have such a positive impact on the local area.
But the work they do, and the benefit our natural environment brings to Tameside, is under a serious threat.
For too long, sewage being dumped in waterways is something that has just been accepted as a given, but people are now standing up to say, enough is enough.
Make no mistake, this shameful practice on this government’s watch and when it comes to protecting our rivers, reservoirs, and local environment from this shameful practice, they have been asleep at the wheel.
Nothing symbolises 13 years of Conservative failure more than tides of raw sewage swelling down our rivers and into our lakes.
They are up to their necks in a sewage crisis of their own making, and people across Tameside are paying the price.
Last year, we saw raw sewage dumped in Tameside’s waterways thousands of times through storm overflows.
Environment Agency data shows that storm overflows were used 2,444 across Tameside during 2022, pumping out raw sewage for over 8,000 hours.
The government say they are clamping down, setting stringent targets on the use of storm overflows, but empty rhetoric simply will not cut it.
Their failure to prevent these sewage leaks has led to a drastic increase in illegal discharges trashing nature and putting people’s health at risk.
We can’t afford to continue with this weak approach, we need action to tackle the shameful practice of sewage dumps.
It’s why I’m proud to back the plans laid out by my friend Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary.
Labour will get tough on illegal sewage dumps by giving the regulator Ofwat greater powers to clamp down on those polluting our waterways, forcing them to clean up their toxic mess.
We will make monitoring of every water outlet compulsory, so that firm action can be taken against the polluters.
When pollution is detected, we will come down hard to impose automatic, instant, and severe fines for every illegal sewage dump.
Under Labour, it won’t be people in Tameside paying the price for this shameful practice, it will be the polluters.