SOUTHAMPTON and Hampshire MPs have been slammed for blocking a bid to stop raw sewage from being pumped into rivers across the country.

MPs have voted by 268 to 204 to disagree with proposals to stop companies dumping raw sewage in English rivers.

But now - Southampton-based campaigners have hit out saying the vote is an insult to city residents who take great pride in the Itchen and Test rivers.

Daily Echo: The River Itchen at the Itchen Bridge, SouthamptonThe River Itchen at the Itchen Bridge, Southampton

Environmental activists even say the waterways are difficult and dangerous to swim in due to 'disgraceful' sewage discharge.

The Environment Agency has reported that, in the last year, raw sewage was discharged into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times.

An amendment to the Environment Bill sought to place a new duty on water companies to reduce these incidents.Daily Echo: River Test at Chilbolton Common. Credit: Bryan HarrisRiver Test at Chilbolton Common. Credit: Bryan Harris

Local Tory MPs including Royston Smith, Paul Holmes, Desmond Swain and Julian Lewis votes against amendments.

However, the Labour MP for Southampton Test, Alan Whitehead, and Tory MP for Southampton North, Caroline Nokes were in favour of changes to the law.

A spokesperson for the Southampton National Park City Project said: "Southampton is famous for its waterways and swimming in rivers done safely has many health benefits.

"The Test and the Itchen have been subjected to disgraceful sewage discharge rendering them difficult and dangerous to swim in for humans and animals alike."

The group aims to create spaces across the city for both people and nature to flourish.

The spokesperson added: "This appears to be an ideologically motivated vote propping up the outdated and destructive idea that big businesses can and must be allowed to wreak whatever havoc they like on humans and the environment for profit which is at best short-sighted when it comes to the joined-up thinking we need about economics and the environment and at worse an insult to the residents of this city who take great pride in the river and its ecosystem."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Southampton added: "Considering the magnitude of the climate and ecological crises, we hoped that MPs would have recognised this and passed legislation that puts a legal onus on polluters to stop dumping raw sewage in our waterways."

The group has slammed MPs who have defended their decision to reject changes to the law saying it would be too costly to the taxpayer.

The spokesperson added: "There needs to be a legal obligation put on polluters to reduce these discharges because the costs of doing nothing in terms of harm to our health and the health of the natural world are great."