The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 8th March 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve water quality in Hertfordshire.
Lord Benyon (Con): Improving water quality remains a government priority. We have set new targets under the Environment Act to address major pressures on water. This will significantly reduce pollution from agriculture, wastewater treatment works and abandoned metal mines pollution.
In August 2022 HM Government launched the most ambitious plan to reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows in water company history – £56 billion capital investment over 25 years. We have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 10% in 2015 to almost 90% now monitored, and we will reach 100% cover by end of this year. It is this increase in monitoring which has revealed the extent of the sewage discharge problem, rather than the problem becoming worse over the years.
Water company investment in environmental improvements has been scaled up to £7.1 billion over the period 2020-25. This includes £3.1 billion invested in storm overflow improvements on approximately 800 storm overflows, 8 of which are in the Hertfordshire and North London area. In Hertfordshire, actions water companies take during this planning period will improve or protect over 200km of watercourse and support meeting Water Framework Directive objectives.
HM Government has doubled the budget of the Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership to £15m per year and provided new funding to the Environment Agency (EA) to increase farm inspections to at least 4,000 inspections a year in 2023. The EA works with local farmers across Hertfordshire to mitigate and prevent agricultural pollution. EA teams have visited 15 farms in the Hertfordshire and North London area already this year.
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