To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to reduce the level of sewage spills into the River Tyne.
16 December 2020
Specific to the Tyne and its tributaries, there are 35 ongoing investigations to identify the frequency of spills from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and to deliver a cost beneficial solution to reduce this. Work is scheduled to complete by the end of 2030.
Howdon Sewage Treatment Works, which handles all of Newcastle’s sewage, is being upgraded at a cost of £90 million to handle more sewage and accommodate growth in the area. These upgrades will increase the current storm tank sizes and reduce the amount of spills to the Tyne estuary.
Northumbrian Water Group are also working with the Environment Agency (EA) and local authorities to produce a Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan due to be published by June 2023. This plan will manage the impact of growth and climate change on the wastewater infrastructure to prevent any future environmental impacts.
Across England, the Government has established a new Storm Overflows Taskforce comprising Defra, the EA, Ofwat, CCW, Water UK and Blueprint for Water which is meeting regularly, with the aim of setting out clear proposals to reduce the frequency and volumes of sewage discharged into rivers and other waterways in extreme weather. The Taskforce is also exploring further short-term actions water companies can take to accelerate progress on storm overflows.
We recognise more needs to be done which is why we continue to work closely with Ofwat and water companies to find ways to reduce the need for storm overflow discharges. In 2019, Ofwat introduced a package of allowances and incentives for the next five years, setting water companies the challenge of reducing pollution incidents by a third, also requiring them to invest £4.8 billion in environmental improvements.