With recess over, this week has seen the return to Westminster.
With a refresher session on chamber procedures under my belt, and after meeting with the Chief Whip, it was great to be back in the chamber.
Despite the return of Parliament, my focus remains on issues local to Hartlepool, which is why I am pleased to have met with Northumbrian Water this week, alongside my colleague Simon Clarke, Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.
I know many of you have raised concerns regarding water quality in Hartlepool, specifically in relation to storm overflows and sewage in Seaton Carew.
I share these concerns, and believe we must work to preserve our natural environment and beaches, and reduce the chance of sewage being discharged – I am therefore encouraged by the fact that Northumbrian Water have agreed to open a dialogue regarding this matter with myself, and other local MPs.
The meeting was very informative – storm overflows are permitted by the Environment Agency, who ensure they remain compliant.
Northumbrian Water were able to inform me that climate change, urban creep and unflushables being put into sewers are the main factors exacerbating the potential for storm water to enter our network, causing sewage to be released.
We can all do our bit to help reduce the impacts of storm overflows – avoid flushing items such as wet wipes, and if you do see any litter that you believe has come from a storm overflow, get in contact with Northumbrian Water so they can prioritise clean ups – 0345 717 1100.
The good news is that since 2000, Northumbrian Water have invested hundreds of millions of pounds to improve bathing waters, leading to 33 of the North East’s 34 designated bathing waters achieving – “excellent” or “good” ratings on Defra’s most recent classifications.
Northumbrian Water also met the industry commitments from SOTF/Defra as well as forthcoming legal duties relating to wastewater outlined in the Environment Bill.
Moving forward, Northumbrian Water are supporting the Defra-led Storm Overflows Task Force (SOTF) to see what can be done nationally to mitigate the impacts of contaminants in storm overflows.
I will be lobbying this government taskforce to ensure we receive future investment to maintain our sewage systems, and manage wastewater in Hartlepool.