WYRE Forest Extinction Rebellion (WFER) held a protest outside MP Mark Garnier's office following the government’s “watered down” response to the Environment Bill.

Before posting a letter to the MP's office, protestors lined Bewdley Road in Stourport on Friday (November 26) to draw attention to what they say is an inadequate response to the problem of raw sewage being released into the UK’s rivers.

Protestors say that the state of water courses poses a significant threat to the health of the general public and is contributing to the ecological emergency.

Banners with messages such as “Stop sewage entering our rivers”, “No human poo in our rivers, only fish poo” and “Raw sewage delivery: direct to a river near you,” were held by protestors.

Kidderminster Shuttle: Protestor on Bewdley Road Protestor on Bewdley Road

One of the demonstrators, Dee Edwards from Bewdley said: “Mark Garnier voted with the Government to allow up to 25 years for water companies to clean up their act, and, even then, the duty on them falls short of imposing a legal duty.

"The shareholders of water companies have benefited to the tune of £1 for every £2 they have invested in maintaining and improving the country’s pipes and treatment plants over the last 30 years.

"In voting the way he did Mark Garnier put the interests of party before the health of constituents, and the interest of profit before the need to control pollution.

"We chose a Friday to deliver our message because Friday’s are usually constituency days when Mark meets with constituents. It is unfortunate that no one was in the office all morning as they missed the beeps of support we received from many motorists.”

Kidderminster Shuttle: Banners were brought to the demonstrationBanners were brought to the demonstration

Another protestor, David Whiting, said: “In 2020 the Arley Kings Pumping station sewer storm overflow spilled 112 times for a total of 1835 hours. Data released by the Environment Agency shows that Severn Trent Water released untreated waste into waterways on a total of 60,982 occasions in 2020.

"Fishermen report that fish catches are reduced due to the high level of pollution in the Severn and people were warned against swimming in the river this summer."

"Since Mark Garnier voted with the Government, Severn Trent Water have stated they will aim to meet their watered-down obligation within nine years, which only underlines the complete lack of ambition shown by the government in tackling this urgent issue."

MP Mark Garnier said: "I regularly meet with WFER, either as a group or individuals, as well as other groups and individuals who share my passion about the environment.

"I am saddened that, this time, they chose to protest rather than meet, and disappointed that they chose to raise their concerns nearly 3 weeks after the last chance to amend the Environment Bill, which became the Environment Act on receiving Royal Assent on the 9th November.

"The original amendment sought to impose huge costs (estimated between £100 billion and £600 billion) on water utilities that would have inevitably been passed onto the consumer.

"Whilst the thrust of the amendment is one I support, in so far as it cleans up rivers, it was important to find a way forward that would not place unduly high inflationary pressures on our economy.

"The government's amendment sought a pragmatic way forward and that is why I supported it."