Lib Dems call for York’s rivers to be cleaned up

York’s Liberal Democrat councillors are set to propose taking action to clean up the city’s rivers, as part of a motion submitted to this week’s Full Council meeting.


Whilst York is well known as the home of its two rivers, the Foss and the Ouse, these waterways have been revealed to be flooded with harmful pollutants, including raw sewage discharges from water treatment operator Yorkshire Water.

Water companies are only allowed to dump raw sewage in the most extreme of circumstances, yet shockingly, in 2020 alone water companies dumped raw sewage 2,392 times into the rivers in York, for a total of 14,838 hours, according to data from the River’s Trust.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for urgent action to clean up the city’s rivers, working with Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency to address sewage discharges and water quality data monitoring as well as lobbying Government for the necessary funding, regulatory powers and policy changes to restore the health of Britain’s rivers.

There was a backlash against a parliamentary vote this October to crack down on the dumping of sewage from storm overflows, in which York Outer MP Julian Sturdy voted against an amendment which would keep water companies to account and take urgent action to clean up the country’s rivers.


Councillor Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change, commented:

“York’s rivers are the lifeblood of our local ecosystem and natural beauty, yet for decades, water companies have been allowed to mistreat them and get away with it.

“It is time we reversed this trend, which is why we’re urging councillors to join us and clean up our rivers. We must take the lead with our local partners to monitor of our local waterways to uncover the extent of the damage and work to stop the pollution of our rivers.

“If this Conservative Government and our own local MP is unwilling to take action, then we must clean up their mess and our rivers!”

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