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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Government consults on further plans to protect coastal waterways

Government consults on further plans to protect coastal waterways


The proposal aims to expand the storm overflows discharge reduction plan

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced further plans to protect England’s waterways on 12 June, which includes the launch of a consultation on its proposal to expand the storm overflows discharge reduction plan to all coasts, estuaries and marine protected sites.

The public consultation, which is open for feedback until 24 July 2023, is looking to gather stakeholder views on the government’s proposed expansion of the targets in the storm overflows discharge reduction plan to cover coastal and estuarine waters; the development of an ecological standard for coastal and estuarine waters; and whether any further areas should be added to the current list of high priority sites listed in the plan.

This latest consultation follows the clarification from government on 25 April that the target to reduce storm overflows will be enshrined in law, through the Environment Act 2021, which aims to improve air and water quality, protect wildlife, increase recycling and reduce plastic waste. The water services regulator, Ofwat, also announced new measures in May to penalise water companies that fail to meet targets for reducing the average number of spills from storm overflows and those companies that do not properly monitor their storm overflows.

Commenting on the announcement, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “While 93% of our beaches with designated bathing status are already rated excellent or good, there is still more to do to better protect our hugely important coasts and estuaries. That is why I am consulting to extend our stringent targets to cover every storm overflow in England – protecting people and the environment across the country.”