Skip to main content

Rivers and Waterways

Volume 591: debated on Thursday 29 January 2015

We have made good progress and cleaned up more than 10,000 miles of our rivers. Pollution from sewage has gone down significantly. During this Parliament, phosphate pollution will fall by a fifth and ammonia by a sixth. This shows that a healthy environment goes hand in hand with a healthy economy.

The River Cherwell and the Oxford canal will soon appear proudly on Cherwell district council’s new coat of arms as being two of the most valued and precious amenities in the district. Am I right in thinking that the total of rivers whose water quality has improved under this Government now exceeds the length of the Amazon and the Nile combined? What more can be done to ensure that our rivers and canals continue to become cleaner?

My right hon. Friend mentions two fine rivers, and I have been on the River Cherwell, a very fine river. He is absolutely right. We have cleaned more than 10,000 miles of river and we will shortly put in place our new countryside stewardship scheme, which will enable farmers to get grants to improve water quality even further.

The Thames is not only England’s longest river, but east of here and down to my constituency it is also the most populated. What steps are the Government taking to clean up the river, while balancing the needs of the users and flora and fauna?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the River Thames. It is vital not only for London but for our whole country, and it is unacceptable that at present raw sewage is regularly pumped into the Thames. That is why we are taking action, through projects such as the Thames tideway tunnel, to reduce that vastly.