SOUTHAMPTON and Hampshire MPs have faced further criticism for voting against a bid to stop sewage spewing into rivers across the country.

"It is outrageous that sewage continues to be pumped directly into our internationally important chalk rivers," says Hampshire wildlife boss, Debbie Tann.

Her comments come amid a fierce debate over amendments to the Environment Bill.

Daily Echo: Stock image: Sewage treatment plantStock image: Sewage treatment plant

Earlier this month MPs voted - by 268 to 204 - to reject proposals to clamp down on water companies dumping sewage in English rivers.

Tory MPs including Royston Smith, Paul Holmes, Desmond Swain and Julian Lewis have come under fire for voting against the amendments.

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

Commenting on the issue, CEO of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Debbie Tann said: “It is outrageous that sewage continues to be pumped directly into our internationally important chalk rivers, harbours and seas."

She has called the Itchen and Test rivers vitally important natural assets which are already at a crisis point.

Daily Echo: The River Test at Fullerton. Photo: Howard Annesley.The River Test at Fullerton. Photo: Howard Annesley.

She added: "We are pleased to see the Government is listening to the outcry of concern, but we must see real progress, not just empty promises to save face before they host COP26.

"We need to see the Government tackle this issue on all fronts, as well as placing a legal duty on water companies to reduce storm overflows, this means bringing our sewage infrastructure up to date, ensuring new development builds in sustainable solutions, and building resilience by investing in nature.

"This is our last opportunity to make the Environment Bill world-leading and we cannot shy away from the toughest, strongest legal commitments on sewage pollution.

Daily Echo: Debbie TannDebbie Tann

"This is the first, essential step towards creating healthy, safe and wilder waterways for both wildlife and people to enjoy for generations to come."

However, Peers recently forced a Government climbdown on the Bill.

The House of Lords backed by 213 votes to 60, majority 153, a proposal to place a new legal duty on water companies to “take all reasonable steps” to prevent sewage discharges.

This will enable the Environment Bill to be sent back to the Commons where the Government will table its own amendment.

It will put a legal duty on the utility firms to “secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows”.