Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss has been accused of having cut £235m from the environment agency during her time at the helm, which doubled sewage dumping/
Labour accused the foreign secretary of presiding over the cuts during her time at the helm of the environment agency (EA) at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
It said since 2016 when Truss headed the department, raw sewage discharge more than doubled from 14/7 per overflow to 29.3 last year.
The party accused her of allowing the increase while the government cut £80m worth of sewage monitors, in a wider £235m package of cuts to the agency, branded “efficiency savings”.
This comes as water company bosses have come under severe pressure after new figures suggested one in eight ‘sewage monitors’ installed for designated swimming areas in the south of England are either faulty or not installed.
The analysis, compiled by the Liberal Democrats from Environment Agency data, comes just days after images of untreated sewage being pumped into the seas around England made headlines.
The number and scale of so-called “sewage dumps” from storm overflows is measured by ‘Event Duration Monitors,’ however a host of popular swimming spots – including Littlehampton in Sussex and Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire – do not have such a monitor, despite the presence of sewage overflow pipes.
“Our water infrastructure is at bursting point with billions of litres of water being wasted every day and raw sewage being dumped into our waters”, said Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.
“The fact that Liz Truss was the one to cut the EA so severely, not only demonstrates her lack of foresight but also her lack of care for the detail, in recognising need to adapt to the serious flooding that had just happened on her watch.”
A spokesperson for Liz Truss said: “These spending reductions were part of a wider drive from central government to find efficiencies across department budgets and government agencies.
“It’s vital we get a grip on pollution in our water and ensure it is clean and safe for all to enjoy. As Prime Minister, Liz will make sure the necessary action is taken to deliver this.”