The Environment Agency routinely assesses pollution levels in the River Wear, and it is working with the Coal Authority and Northumbrian Water to reduce pollution. The EA will take the strongest enforcement action, where necessary, and improving water quality is a Government priority. Conservative Members voted in favour of a whole range of packages and measures to improve water quality; sadly, the hon. Lady and her colleagues did not.
Following their field trip to the River Wear last month, year 5 and 6 pupils at St Thomas More School in Belmont were saddened by the levels of pollution in the river, especially the amount of plastic, so they have asked me to come here today to keep everyone on the right track. Can the Minister tell the pupils of St Thomas More School what the Government plan to do to help clean up the River Wear to protect local wildlife and preserve the beauty of the riverside?
I commend the St Thomas More primary school pupils for going out, and it is wonderful to get our children out in the environment. It is interesting and perhaps disappointing that they found pollution, but the message to them is that this Government are absolutely on water and river pollution. Indeed, our new proposed target to reduce the amount of pollution in rivers such as the Wear in old abandoned mining areas by 50% by 2030 will make a genuine difference, as will our raft of other measures to tackle storm sewage overflows.[Official Report, 10 May 2022, Vol. 714, c. 1MC.]