Harrogate Lib Dems call for sewage tax to clean-up rivers
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Last updated Feb 2, 2022
River Nidd at Knaresborough
The River Nidd at Knaresborough

Harrogate and Knaresborough Liberal Democrats have called on the government to introduce a sewage tax to raise money to clean rivers.

The party said a 16% tax on water companies would help to create an emergency fund to improve rivers which had sewage dumped into them.

The Stray Ferret reported in November that Yorkshire Water released raw and untreated sewage into Harrogate district rivers and becks on 3,800 different occasions in 2020.

The worst affected local river is the River Nidd, prompting health concerns from wild swimmers that use the river in Knaresborough.

Water companies are legally allowed to release sewage through overflow pipes when the sewage system becomes too full, which can happen during increased rainfall.


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The Liberal Democrats highlighted that Yorkshire Water made an operating profit of £241 million last year.

Hannah Gostlow, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Scriven Park in Knaresborough, said:

“Rivers should be safe for sustaining wildlife, swimming and leisure. They are a precious source of drinking water for some. 

“So why are they filled with raw sewage and human waste, destroying them for decades to come?

“It is disgraceful to see a company which pollutes our local rivers with sewage make so much money last year. I think Yorkshire Water should pay to clean up the mess they make here. This Conservative government is once again too slow to act and doing nothing to protect our local rivers.”

The Stray Ferret contacted the Conservative leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Cllr Richard Cooper, to ask for his response to the proposal. He referred us to the council press office. We await a response.