Minister Pow discusses storm overflows with Professor Hammond


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Minister Pow discusses storm overflows with Professor Hammond

Written by Defra Press Office

An image of a lake

Yesterday Environment Minister Rebecca Pow met Professor Hammond, former professor at University College London and visiting scientist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology until December last year.

This meeting, referenced earlier this week in the Guardian, followed a request from the Minister who wanted to hear more about Professor Hammond’s work on storm overflows, water company discharges and how technology can help identify issues and improve reporting and planning.

They spoke about Professor Hammond’s research, which includes looking at where wastewater treatment works may not be treating the flows required by permits governing discharges to watercourses. It also looks at how ‘machine learning’ algorithms detect when unpermitted discharges could have happened in the past.

Minister Pow spoke about the new legislative commitments on storm overflows and the £143m of new, additional investment on storm overflows within the current 5-year business planning period (2020-2025) as part of the recent Green Recovery Fund.

Following the meeting, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

Improving water quality is a major priority for me, which is why I set up the Storm Overflows Taskforce last summer and have continued to push for change on this issue.

I am pleased that Environment Agency colleagues are already engaging with Professor Hammond on his detailed research. I would encourage water companies to do the same to improve transparency on this issue and identify where improvements need to be made.
Professor Hammond said:

Discharges of untreated sewage damage river ecology and are the major source of microplastics in riverbeds. My first priority is to identify where discharges breach permits without detection. A second priority is to encourage campaigners, the Environment Agency and water companies to identify polluted watercourses, improve compliance and address inadequate treatment.

I am pleased that Environment Minister Pow recognises the urgency of the situation and the need to adopt more contemporary analytical approaches.
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Livestock Farmer
Sewage pollution is a much bigger issue than most water companies or public authorities accept. I do wonder how much of the river pollution blamed on farms is actually sewage pollution either from STW storm outfalls or from badly managed septic tanks and package treatment systems.

Could a ‘Meat Tax’ be on the cards in the UK?

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Written by Richard Halleron from Agriland

The latest machination coming from the so-called ‘opinion formers’, who seem to have the ear of government advisors in London, is the introduction of a ‘Meat Tax’ at consumer level.

This approach, it is argued, would have the combined impact of reducing meat consumption levels (I can really see the health benefits coming through now), while also helping to reduce the overall carbon footprint of production agriculture.

What absolute drivel! In my opinion, none of this makes sense at any level. This is a scurrilous and unfounded attack on livestock farming in this part of the world.

Yet, it has to be taken seriously. I make this point because economists at Rothamsted Research have already crunched the numbers where the introduction of a ‘UK...