Thames Water has insisted that the water diverted from its water reclamation project will be safe

Sewage will affect many voters in the upcoming elections

More than half of the public will look at how the government is handling the spilled sewage and look at how they vote in next year’s elections.

A poll of 6,000 adults by Survation, a research company, found that discharges from rivers and oceans would affect how more than 56 percent of people voted.

This figure rose to 66 per cent among those who voted Labor in the 2019 general election, and fell to 51 per cent among Tory voters. However, there are 31 Conservative seats, including the premiership in Richmond, Yorkshire, and the chancellorship in South West Surrey, where the number jumps to 60 percent or more.

The results show the political pain about sewage pollution for the Conservatives, because the government was found by the watcher to weakening environmental protections by scrapping river laws last month to boost housing. Steve Reed, the new shadow environment secretary, has promised to get tough on river pollution, although Labor has yet to vow to ban or change the rules.

Siobhan Harley, director of campaigns at the not-for-profit 38 Degrees, which commissioned the research, said: “This study makes clear the political costs of damaging Britain’s rivers and seas.”

Nationally, 35 per cent of people say water quality has worsened in the past year, with the highest regional levels at 44 per cent in south-east England and 38 per cent in the south-west and east. Southern Water, Anglia Water and South West Water, which covers those areas, only managed 2 out of 4 stars on the official environment scorecard last year.

The poll found that 25 percent of people have been personally affected by a sewage spill or witnessed it in the past year.

Thames Water has insisted that the water diverted from its water reclamation project will be safe

Thames Water has insisted that the water diverted from its water reclamation project will be safe


Ahead of the general election, The Times Clean it Up campaign called for stronger regulation and more investment to improve water quality across rivers and oceans. Just 16 per cent of waterways in England are considered to meet good environmental standards.

Hundreds of people protested on the River Thames on Saturday protesting Thames Water’s plans to develop a water recycling project there. The Teddington scheme is designed to boost water supply by withdrawing excess water from the river and replacing it with highly treated wastewater from a sewage treatment plant.

People took boats, carrying placards saying “this plan stinks” and 24,000 people signed a petition against the project. Thames Water insists that the water will be safe.

Meanwhile, the charity is inviting the public to take part in a water survey later this month, which it hopes will be the scientific community’s biggest river health initiative. The River Trust’s Big River Watch will take place between 22 and 24 September, with people asked to download the app and spend 15 minutes on the river reporting what they see, from wildlife to visible pollution. Similar bird watching programs have attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.

In contrast, marine conservation groups have called on the government to increase protection in the seas around the UK’s two overseas territories, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands in the south Atlantic. The Zoological Society of London, the RSPB and other groups in the Great Blue Ocean coalition want to see large areas of water designated as marine reserves fully protected.

Closing the sea to fishing will help the whales, seals and penguins that live on the islands, conservationists say. A group of 23 Tory MPs, including former ministers Zac Goldsmith and Matt Hancock, wrote a letter to The Times urging foreign secretary James Cleverly to restore greater protection.

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