Local protesters have installed “blue plaques” in Purley, including outside the constituency office of Croydon South’s Tory MP Chris Philp, to highlight the shocking state of the nation’s rivers and coastline due to wanton and deliberate pollution by the major water companies.
Water companies have been dumping sewage into Croydon’s own river, the Wandle, since Philp and other MPs voted to allow them to continue the toxic practice in October 2021.
The blue plaques are part of a national day of action by campaigners from Extinction Rebellion.
The Purley plaques read: “Chris Philp MP voted to block a law requiring water companies to dump less raw sewage in our waterways and seas.”
A spokesperson for Croydon XR says: “We’ve watched in horror as our rivers and seas have become open sewers.
“In October 2021, the government voted down a proposal to stop water companies pumping waste directly into our rivers and seas. They justified this by claiming that the proposal was too expensive. These plaques shine a light on the government’s failure to protect our waterways, the natural world, and all of us.”
The government’s failure to properly tackle the issue of sewage pollution has been hugely controversial. Last summer more than a hundred beaches were closed to the public after a series of sewage discharges by water companies left the sand and sea contaminated with human effluent.
Meanwhile, only 14per cent of the country’s rivers achieve “good” ecological status, with pollution from agriculture, sewage, off-wash from roads, and single-use plastics creating a dangerous “chemical cocktail” in our waterways.
Yet in December the Environment Agency announced it was pushing back targets to clean up England’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters from 2027 to 2063.
Etienne Stott, the Olympic canoeing gold medal winner and environmental campaigner, said: “It’s disgusting to think what’s being pumped into our rivers. The government and the water companies aren’t going to clean up unless ordinary people put pressure on them.
“Extinction Rebellion can’t do this alone. We need everyone who cares about our rivers and seas to stand up with us and speak out. Today is just the first part of a bigger campaign to protect nature and our waterways.”
Read more: River from Tory Philp’s constituency runs brown with sewage
Read more: Rivers and environment are at peril from nation’s lawmakers
Read more: After decades of clean-ups, we’re still polluting precious rivers
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I was only thinking the other day how tatty and rundown the constitency office was looking. A perfect allegory for Croydon South, and Croydon as a whole.