Eye residents hold petition to in opposition to Dan Poulter MP voting down amendment to Environment Bill
Dozens of frustrated residents in Eye have signed a petition this week after their local MP voted against a bill seeking to place a duty on water companies to improve their sewage systems.
At the end of last month, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter was among 265 Conservative MPs to vote against a House of Lords amendment to the Environment Bill.
Had it gained sufficient support, it would have placed a legal obligation on water companies to reduce discharges of untreated sewage into rivers and lakes.
The decision by Dr Poulter sparked outcry from residents in his constituency, where the issue has hit close to home.
Last year, Anglian Water discharged raw sewage into a section of the River Dove, just outside Eye, on 33 occasions and a further 17 times in a section near Thorndon.
Despite this, Dr Poulter claimed that there are “no concerns over water quality or safety in our local rivers”.
On Saturday, October 30, organisers collected 49 signatures from residents registering their dismay towards their MP, which was promptly sent to his Framlingham office.
“The response was amazing,” said Kate Leith, who organised the petition.
“A steady stream of people came and talked to us, saying how disgusted they were – and everyone signed the petition.
“People really do care and are prepared to act to safeguard their loved-ones’ health and protect the environment.
“We are a group of concerned local residents who believe people should be able to swim, paddle, fish and play in our rivers and sea without worrying about sewage pollution, which puts us at risk of gastroenteritis, ear, nose and throat infections, skin infections and even hepatitis and e-coli.
“Poor water quality also harms river and ocean wildlife, reducing biodiversity and damaging delicate ecosystems.”
Fellow organiser Tim Glento added: “The fact that this petition got 49 signatures in under two hours from people who just happened to be passing by demonstrates that people really do care about their environment and their families’ health.”
In response to the petition, Dr Poulter said there was no need to be concerned about the safety of rivers in his constituency, adding that the amendment – put forward in the House of Lords by the Duke of Ellington, Arthur Wellesley – would cost more than three times the total budget for the health service.
He said: “Suffolk residents should be reassured that, as far as I am aware, there are no concerns of water quality or safely in our local rivers.
“Measures have been brought forward by the Government in the Environment Bill to mandate and improve river quality standards.
“The Government is ensuring these measures are implemented in a well-considered and thoughtful way.
“That, unfortunately, would not have been achieved by the Duke of Wellington’s amendment, which estimates suggest could have cost taxpayers up to more than three times the total annual NHS budget, at anywhere between £150 billion and £650 billion.”