Category Archives: Pollution

Why you can trust Vox Political: Lords torpedo Tory plan for developers to pollute rivers

Housebuilding: but it won’t happen on the flood plains of environmentally-sensitive rivers, thanks to the Lords.

Allow me to take this opportunity to remind you of something I suggested when the Conservative government first announced its plan to end “nutrient neutrality” rules that protect environmentally-sensitive waterways from pollution by new housing estates:

They’ll be built on the flood plains of environmentally-sensitive rivers, and most likely without any of the mitigation measures the government has promised.

So when they flood – and they will – those houses will be filled with human “wee and poo”.

Do you really want that stuff to get into everything you own? Have a think about it.

It seems the members of the House of Lords did have a think about it (those peers love Vox Political) and threw out the whole idea:

So there you have it.

These houses would indeed have been built on flood plains or areas at high risk of flooding – so not only would the rivers have been full of pollution after the “nutrient neutrality” rules were scrapped, but your house would have been full of it too.

The developers wouldn’t have cared because they would have had your money already.

Oh – but now it looks like they’re not going to have your money because they’re not going to be able to build on these flood plains.

And that means they won’t be keen to donate some of that money to the Tories (which is what This Writer thinks was the whole point of the plan in the first place).

So guess who’s really mad about it? Here’s Tory MP Simon Clarke, who has indeed taken at least one donation from a property developer (I stopped looking when I found one) – and a response from a right-thinking member of the public:

And would you like to know the real joy of this Tory defeat? Here‘s the BBC:

Because of the late stage at which the government tried to introduce the change, it cannot try again in the House of Commons now it has been defeated in the Lords.

Ministers would need to bring the proposal forward in a new bill.

I wonder if they will?


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The Tories DID lie to give builders bigger profits. Don’t buy their houses!

A river in flood: the new houses that will be built after the Tories dropped ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules will probably be on flood plains of environmentally-sensitive rivers that the water firms have already filled with raw sewage. They will flood, meaning if you buy a house there, all your possessions will be ruined.

EXTRA: Is it true that Michael Gove took two £50,000 donations from a property developer last year – and should we be asking whether that has anything to do with this change in government policy?

Now read on…

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds briefly became a hero – and then a zero – when it said Tory ministers were liars … and then apologised.

The charity had spoken up against Michael Gove’s decision to strip “nutrient neutrality” demands from rules governing housing developments near UK waterways:

The charity provided ample evidence to support its claim; the Tory government has insisted for years that it will improve environmental protections significantly. Having failed to do this in any way at all – and in fact having caused a disaster in our waterways – the Tories are now legislating to force authorities to ignore pollution altogether. Here are those claims, as provided by Feargal Sharkey, who fears the original posts may disappear:

This is the legislation requiring planning authorities to ignore the threat of pollution when granting permission for homes to be built, followed by the RSPB’s evidence of Tory lies:

Charity Commission guidance on campaigning gives the green light to posts of this nature:

And the RSPB at first won widespread support:

And then it all dissolved:

Let’s remember a few facts:

The evidence seems to be lost on Tory supporters who claim that a promise of funding (£140m extra – not more than £200m as described by the drone below) will entirely negate the damage that will be done:

For clarity: the nutrients (“human wee and poo” as the Wildlife Trust’s Craig Bennett described them on Radio 4) will be going into rivers that are already clogged with raw sewage that has been illegally discharged by England’s privatised water companies (with government blessing).

It will be easy to argue that it is impossible to show what extra harm is being done by new developments – and refuse to spend the money.

There’s also the question of whether the government should be spending public money on such cleaning in any event.

It seems that developers are responsible for one-fifth of donations to the Conservative Party, and have been sitting on more than a million planning permissions, waiting for the Tories to get rid of the expensive environmental protections that would cut into their profits.

After the Tories made their announcement, share prices in just three housebuilding firms rocketed by nearly £500 million – more than three times the extra cash the government has promised to mitigate the environmental harm they will do.

That’s money they were going to get as soon as they decided to start building again; building is a major economic multiplier – it adds a lot to the economy and that means people with cash want to invest in it to make more cash.

So the developers could easily have afforded to implement the environmental protections as formerly required by the law. They just didn’t want to. And to force the issue, they sat on more than a million planning permissions while the government was made increasingly embarrassed by its failure to hit housing targets.

Here’s the evidence:

In summary:

The RSPB had no reason to apologise for correctly calling Tory government ministers liars who reversed their environmental policies under pressure from greedy housing developers who wanted to maximise their profits.

The best way to give these greed-consumed creeps their just desserts is simple: don’t buy their houses.

I know – most of us won’t have the option.

But for the rest: they’ll be built on the flood plains of environmentally-sensitive rivers, and most likely without any of the mitigation measures the government has promised.

So when they flood – and they will – those houses will be filled with human “wee and poo”.

Do you really want that stuff to get into everything you own? Have a think about it.


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Housebuilders rise to top of FTSE100 now YOU have to pay for pollution they cause

Housebuilding: the Tories have been looking for something on which they can blame their failure to build enough new homes – and have found it in the form of legal protections for river life. So they are scrapping those protections and forcing you to pay for pollution prevention measures.

Exactly as This Site predicted only hours ago, evidence is showing that a Tory government decision to scrap “nutrient neutrality” rules that protect river life from harm caused by housing developments is creating huge profits for builders.

Meanwhile, the cost of cleaning up their mess is set to fall on the public purse.

Here’s the evidence about building firms:

And The Guardian is saying the following about how the bill for their pollution will now be paid:

Taxpayers will pick up the bill for pollution by housebuilders, government officials have admitted, as rules on chemical releases into waterways are scrapped.

The government has said it will double Natural England’s wetland funding to £280m in order to show it is trying to meet the requirements of its legally binding Environment Act.

This extra £140m will come from the public purse, the government confirmed. When asked by the Guardian whether this meant the taxpayer was now picking up the bill for pollution caused by developers, a government official responded “yes”, adding that while “the polluter pays principle is very important”, it was having too many adverse impacts on small- and medium-sized housebuilders.

So there you have it.

You paid for the privatised energy companies’ enormous profits. You paid for the privatised water firms to pollute our rivers. And now you are to pay for mitigation of the already-private builders’ attempts to kill off any remaining life in our waterways – if such mitigation ever happens.


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Michael Gove wants to kill remaining river life for the sake of house-builders’ profits

Michael Gove: he wants the UK’s rivers to be as dead as the area behind his blank-eyed stare.

The Tories have revealed the latest stage of their plan to reduce the United Kingdom to rubble by the time of the next general election – and it’s about harming our rivers again.

Having already filled England’s waterways – among others – with disease-carrying sewage, Housing Secretary Michael Gove is scrapping “nutrient neutrality” rules that mean local authorities should not approve any new development that may add to river nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates, through wastewater from new homes or run-off from building sites.

This could lead to a build-up of algae and other plants that could choke off aquatic life in our rivers.

Just have a think about that. The Tories announce a bonanza for house-building, then all the river life dies, with a knock-on effect that hits the whole UK eco-system. What good will a few extra homes do then?

It makes a hypocrite of Gove, who was talking up higher environmental standards in 2018:

Oh: Gove and the Tories are lying about the reason for doing it.

Builders say the current rules mean they have been forced to put 120,000 homes on hold – but it seems this is only because they don’t want to mitigate new nutrient loads caused by new populations in housing, onsite or elsewhere within the same catchment, by investing in new wetlands or by creating buffer zones along rivers and other watercourses.

Builders complained that doing so was costly and time-consuming; they delayed new housebuilding because the environmental protection they were being asked to implement would bite into their profits a bit, and take a bit of time to do. They never mention that not doing anything at all means an even longer delay.

Ministers launched a mitigation scheme in 2022 under which complaining builders were allowed to buy “credits” to gain approval for their schemes. They then complained that the process of purchasing such credits has occasionally led to unintended consequences like buying up farmland to take it out of use in an attempt to reduce water run-off.

So this is a plan to kill off the UK’s river life, for the sake of builders’ profits.

How absolutely, utterly despicable. It’s a new low for a government that may now best be compared to the most virulent, toxic disease you know.

As Katie-Jo Luxton, director of conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said:

If nutrient neutrality rules are scrapped, pollution will accumulate unchecked and our rivers face total ecological collapse.

Total ecological collapse. That’s what Michael Gove (and Therese Coffey, the Environment Secretary who supports this lunacy) and, it seems, the UK house-building industry wants.


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Connections: here’s why privatised water wants LABOUR to help it avoid nationalisation

A reminder: Thames Water wants Keir Starmer and his Labour Party to support their decision to put money into shareholder dividends rather than into stopping them from pumping millions of tonnes of faeces and other sewage into our once-clean rivers and coasts. He probably will support them because he’s a right-winger who supports profit for the few over the well-being of the many.

Were you shocked to learn that a privatised water firm that is in deep financial trouble has approached the Labour Party to help it avoid being re-nationalised?

This Writer wasn’t.

Here‘s the dope:

Liv Garfield, the boss of water giant Severn Trent, is trying to bring a taskforce of utility bosses together with the Labour party in a bid to head off the threat of nationalisation.

In an email sent to other utility CEOs which she describes as “sensitive” and “highly confidential”, the £4 million a year Garfield [writes] “One idea we believe might be attractive to the Labour leadership is re-purposing utilities and utility networks into a new breed of declared social purpose companies – companies that remain privately owned, who absolutely can (and should) make a profit, but ones that also have a special duty to take a long-term view.”

Garfield, one of a handful of female bosses of FTSE 100 companies, warns her colleagues: “The Labour leadership is aware we are soft testing various ideas but have asked us to keep it highly confidential so please don’t forward this email.”

The email seems to include comments from a Labour representative in support of Ms Garfield’s ideas.

In other words:

Putting aside the Breakthrough Party’s electioneering, we can see that the sentiment about Labour is correct. If you want further proof, consider the following “before/after” video clip showing Keir Starmer lying about nationalisation, not once but twice:

Let’s pause for a moment to remind ourselves of why the privatised water firms are facing possible renationalisation. First, the pollution:

Now the profit-driven debt. Here’s The Guardian:

In a little over three decades, Thames Water, the biggest water and sewerage company in England, serving 15 million people, has transformed from a debt-free public utility into what critics argue is a privately owned investment vehicle carrying the highest debt in the industry.

Over those years … its executives and the shareholders and private equity companies who own it have presided over decades of underinvestment, aggressive cost-cutting and huge dividend payments.

The symptom of these decades can be seen in the scale of sewage discharges, the record leaks from its pipes and the state of its treatment plants – which are now at the centre of a criminal investigation by the Environment Agency into illegal sewage dumping and a regulatory inquiry by Ofwat.

Privatisation – which was intended to lead to a new era of investment, improved water quality and low bills – turned water into a cash cow for investment firms and private equity companies.

Charts accompanying the article show how Thames Water has built up £14.3bn of debt, while at the same time handing out dividends totalling £7.2bn. One owner, Australian “infrastructure asset management firm” Macquarie, took out £656m in dividends in 2007, when profits were a fraction of that at £241m.

How could it produce any statement of profit at all? Easy: borrowing. Money for equipment and day-to-day running was borrowed while the cash paid in bills went into shareholder bank accounts (as described by economise Richard Murphy here).

It is this situation that Labour is being asked to support – and which, from the tone of Ms Garfield’s email, it does.

Should we be shocked? No. We should not even be surprised. Labour is not the socialist, “for the many, not the few” endeavour it was intended to be when it was founded. In just three short years, Keir Starmer (the serial liar – as demonstrated above – who is currently in charge of that party) has perverted it into the opposite of what it was.

Where Labour would once have been expected to suspend anybody suspected of sexualising children while police investigate, Starmer’s party puts them up for election:

(Odd, that. When This Writer stood for a council election, my Labour membership was suspended within days of the poll, after the party accepted entirely false claims that I was an anti-Semite. Clearly, the party currently runs a “one rule for us, another rule for you” system.)

Labour under Starmer is not opposed to racism. In fact, some say its MPs and leaders are themselves avid racists. Consider the claim against Jess Phillips, below – who apparently whipped up a dogpile on Twitter against the head teacher of a school that isn’t even in her constituency:

And Starmer’s Labour, while still claiming to be a “broad church” that accepts a wide range of political views, is actually becoming more narrow-mindedly right-wing all the time by purging its membership of anybody whose political views are to the left of – well, Mussolini, it seems.

After years of focusing on more overtly left-wing members, Starmer’s leadership has started on what are deemed to be “soft left” figures – causing a stir yesterday (Saturday, July 1, 2023) when Neal Lawson of the think tank Compass was targeted for removal. He wrote about it in The Guardian:

 They wrote coldly to tell me that back in May 2021, I’d committed a crime: retweeting a Lib Dem MP’s call for some voters to back Green candidates in local elections, accompanied by my suggestion that such cross-party cooperation represented “grownup progressive politics”.

Why did I say that, why on earth am I facing expulsion for it, and what might it mean for the future of our politics? I said it for two reasons. First, because the progressive majority in our country is thwarted by the electoral system. Votes on the right go almost exclusively to the Tories, but the progressive vote is always split between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens. Under first past the post (FPTP) the Conservatives win on a minority of the vote, again and again. Cooperation between progressives just makes sense.

Governing with others is better than losing alone… So, why use an uncontentious tweet from over two years ago to move to expel me?

The reason is that the party machine is no longer run in this long and rich spirit of pluralism. It has been captured by a clique who see only true believers or sworn enemies.

In fact, Labour has a standing rule that no party member may voice support for another party. Members on the left have been expelled for that since before Mr Lawson made his tweet. And This Writer has little sympathy because the fact that he did publish such a tweet suggests he may have thought he was one of the privileged clique at the top who are above the rules.

In any case, Mr Lawson doesn’t need (and probably wouldn’t want) my support to deal with this. He’ll have enough support from others – reluctant though it may be in some cases:

“First they came for the socialists…” as Martin Niemoller wrote about the Nazis.

Well, now they have come for Neal Lawson, and he’s lucky that the socialists are still around to speak out for him, even though the party leaders he has supported until now may wish the situation to be otherwise.

And this is the reason the privatised water companies who have vandalised our rivers and coasts are turning to Keir Starmer for help: they see in him a kindred spirit – a fellow vandal.


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Comedians raise awareness of sewage dumping at Lake Windermere protest

Paul Whitehouse, Lee Mack and Steve Coogan at Lake Windermere: the water won’t be magically cleaned just because they joined a protest – that is up to the rest of us.

This Site would like to add its praise to that already heaped on household-name comedians Steve Coogan, Lee Mack and Paul Whitehouse (plus any others who haven’t been named by national media) for raising awareness of sewage pollution.

They joined a protest against United Utilities’ pollution of Lake Windermere, giving it a mass-media boost that put the message onto TV screens across the UK.

And they said – well, hear it for yourself. Here are Messrs Coogan and Mack on ITV’s Good Morning Britain:

And here’s Lee Mack on Channel 4 News. I include the tweet by Feargal Sharkey because the former pop musician turned environmental campaigner has himself done invaluable work in publicising this scandal:

One well-publicised protest won’t clean up our waterways overnight.

As you can tell from the clips, United Utilities doesn’t really care. It’s happy giving £300 million to shareholders this year, while devoting just one-fifteenth as much to cleaning up its act. That’s the wrong way around, but it is the way chosen by the UK’s right-wing governments since 1989 – both Tory and Labour, who privatised our water and sewage services and kept them that way.

If you care about the country you live in, you need to kick up a fuss about this. Complain to your water company – demand a refund! And get on to your MP about it too.

Sewage dumping brings disease. The creek near Environment Secretary Therese Coffey’s own constituency home is full of e.Coli – but she couldn’t care less. You have to make her care.

Are you going to follow the example of Coogan, Mack, Whitehouse and the others? They can’t do it by themselves.


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In 13 years, this is the only growth the Tories have given us

At last the UK’s Conservative government report genuine, exponential growth!

Needless to say, it’s not the kind of growth that any of us would want. Here’s Feargal Sharkey:

And the pollution that gives rise to such disease is still taking place, despite the penalties that are being applied to the private water companies responsible:

This is the reason Brian May, bless him, was mistaken in his own recent intervention. Here it is:

He reckons regulation needs to be properly applied to the private water companies – but this misses the point: it is.

The problem is that the companies’ bosses have realised that it is cheaper to keep polluting and pay the fines than it is to implement system improvements that will allow the full processing of sewage and thereby the purification of our waterways.

They have also realised that the government is unlikely to increase those fines to such a degree that it would be wiser to carry out the work. Either the privatised companies would simply pass on the cost to their customers, or they would dare the government to put them out of business – because what would happen then?

Water companies are monopolies, whether the government admits it or not – operating on a geographical basis. And no matter what happens, someone has to provide the service.

So these businesspeople have us all over a barrel.

The only other alternative is for the government to pay for improvements with public money. But part of the point of privatisation was for improvements and modernisation to be funded from private investment.

So we come to the only logical solution: re-nationalisation.

And the problem with that is, nobody in charge of either of the UK’s two main parties wants to bring water back under public control.

It isn’t too expensive – governments can create the money to pay off the executives and shareholders. There’s no inflationary pressure either, if the government doing it taxes the cost back from, say, the rich (who took £700 billion for nothing during the pandemic, remember).

But, again, nobody in charge of the UK’s two main parties wants that cash back.

That’s all it is – a matter of will.

We simply need to put somebody in government who is willing to do what is needed.


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Water companies face unlimited fines for dumping sewage – but too late?

Rivers of Sh*t: Boris Johnson couldn’t be bothered to think about the details of his Brexit, so the UK suffered shortages of materials including those used to clean sewage. So partially-cleaned and harmful crap started going directly into our rivers, with government approval. And now? Who knows why it’s happening – probably because it’s profitable.

It’s totally underwhelming – and looks like an attempt by the Tory government to dodge blame.

Apparently ministers want to lift a cap of £250,000 on penalties for firms that release sewage into rivers and the sea – and make the fine unlimited.

But questions are being asked about Environment Secretary Therese Coffey:

The Environment Agency has recorded 301,081 sewage spills in 2022 – down from 2021, but this is believed to be due to drier weather rather than the actions of water firms.

According to Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, Coffey’s “plans to solve this crisis would allow sewage dumping to happen for decades to come, poisoning more animals and destroying precious chalk streams”.

And concerns have been raised that people may not realise just how harmful these sewage dumps are.

Fortunately we have former pop star and now environmental campaign Feargal Sharkey to point out the worst to us.

Brace yourself because here comes a selection of his tweets on the subject, with links to full stories:

Oh, and just for good measure, here’s Prem Sikka:

Oh yes, and Keir Starmer has made noises about water pollution, as you’ll see from the tweet below.

But look at the comment on it. Previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would have done much more. Starmer is just paying lip-service to the idea.

Feargal reckons that, even with its faults, Labour is better for our waterways than the Tories:

Starmer isn’t in power at the moment so he can’t do anything. Right-wing factionalists – like him – in the Labour Party sabotaged Mr Corbyn’s bid to form a government.

So he’s a liability in the fight against waterway pollution.

And in the meantime, nothing is being done to stop these polluting companies.

And the rivers and seas of the UK are absolutely full of poison.


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Struggling to afford food? Work longer hours, says Tory Coffey. Does she work at all?

Let them eat overtime: this is because working people can’t have any fruit and veg under a Tory government.

Here is your regular reminder that Therese Coffey is rubbish.

It’s from last week but got lost among all the other rubbish the Environment Secretary threw at us then:

Here’s a video clip of her actually saying it:

Meanwhile, let’s have an update on the fruit and vegetable shortages her government has caused:

And how about a reminder that the Tory Brexiters were adamant that we wouldn’t suffer any shortages at all?

And what is her plan to end the food shortages?

Apparently, it is to choke on her own words:

If you noticed that Luke Pollard asked if Coffey wanted to go down as the Secretary of State for Sewage, you may welcome this update on the pollution of our rivers:

All the fish dead because the Tory government couldn’t be bothered to properly regulate the water and sewage firms it created by privatising a national utility and asset.

It should be a criminal offence and these people should be locked up – and forced to eat and drink the produce their incompetence has polluted.*

*I know that’s a death sentence but it will never be carried out, even though it would be poetic justice.


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Raw sewage released into UK waterways increases by 2,553% over five years

Rivers of Sh*t: the amount of harmful crap being pumped into our rivers and seas has multiplied by 2,553 per cent.

A friend on the social media asked how private water companies could have pumped raw sewage into our seas and rivers for more than nine million hours since 2016 when that’s the equivalent of 1,076 years.

The answer, in fact, is quite simple: each company has many outflows into the UK’s waterways, and they have been pumping away industrially.

The amount of raw sewage going into our rivers and seas has increased by 2,553 per cent over the last five years.

No wonder the information had to be dragged out of the Environment Agency by the Labour Party, via the Freedom of Information Act!

I’m reminded of the advertising campaign for the movie Jaws 2, containing what may be horror’s greatest tagline:

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.”

Sadly, nobody has thought it was safe to go in the water since the government voted to allow the water companies to pump all their crap – literally – into UK waterways.

Who knew the threat wouldn’t come from a dangerous creature but from an industry that’s supposed to keep us safe?

Source: ‘It’s filthy and it stinks’: Huge increase in raw sewage released into waterways and sea, data reveals

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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