Sewage in Nidd and Ure: local politicians react to increase
Last updated Mar 28, 2024
Andrew Jones MP (left) and Tom Gordon

Leading Harrogate and Knaresborough politicians have reacted to the news that sewage spills in the River Nidd and River Ure more than doubled last year.

The Environment Agency published sewage discharge figures for all the water and sewage companies yesterday. The Stray Ferret analysed the data to discover the amount of recorded incidents had more than doubled for the Nidd and Ure.

Water quality is likely to be a key issue at the next general election.

Andrew Jones, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, has led a campaign to achieve bathing water status at Knaresborough Lido on the Nidd.

Tom Gordon, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough, has attacked the government for its record on pollution and called for a ban on water company directors’ bonuses.

The rivals gave different reactions to yesterday’s figures.

‘A complex picture’

Mr Jones told the Stray Ferret sewage “isn’t the only cause of pollution in rivers – particularly the Nidd”, adding run-off from farmlands also contributed to the issue.

Mr Jones said:

“The combined storm overflows are designed to discharge the contents of sewers into waterways when the sewers are blocked or overloaded.  In 2023 there was exceptionally heavy rainfall which meant the overflows operated more often, stopping sewage backing up into our properties. We need solutions that mean the storm overflows operate less and I am pleased that significant investment is happening and I am pushing for more.

“This shows the importance of a joint effort between water companies, the Environment Agency, house builders and many others to ensure that rainwater run-off into our sewer system is lessened through tree planting, on-site water storage on new estates and separation of clean water and wastewater sewage streams.

“Water quality is a complex picture and to tackle it we need to tackle all the underlying causes.  This underlines the importance of gaining bathing water status for the Nidd. This will mean a five-year plan is developed encompassing all the causes of pollution and engaging all partners in finding a solution.  That is what I have been championing with the local community and I hope to learn the outcome of our bid soon.”

‘A complete scandal’

Mr Gordon went on the front foot by attacking the Conservative’s record on pollution.

The party yesterday claimed the Conservative MPs have “consistently voted against measures which would have helped to tackle the crisis – including Andrew Jones”.

Mr Gordon told the Stray Ferret:

“It is a complete scandal that filthy sewage is being pumped into our River Nidd. Despite our Conservative MP claiming to be campaigning on sewage we have seen the total number of hours of sewage dumped into the Nidd skyrocket, more than doubling.

“It’s beggars belief that Conservative MPs have allowed water firms to get away with this environmental vandalism. Local people are furious that Conservative politicians blocked tougher action on these disgraced firms.

“Here in Harrogate and Knaresborough we have a Conservative MP who has consistently voted against measures to stop the sewage scandal, local residents deserve better. Local residents and our precious environment need actions not words.

“The Liberal Democrats are calling for tougher action to stop sewage being dumped in local rivers/beaches including replacing Ofwat with a regulator that has real teeth to clamp down on these polluting firms. We have also called for a ban on bonuses for water company fat cats whose firms have pumped filth into our waterways.”

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