Summertown Candidate Mark Hull address protestors at a rally against river pollution on Port Meadow
Summertown Candidate Mark Hull address protestors at a rally against river pollution on Port Meadow

Mark Hull, Labour’s Summertown candidate, is leading the charge for Thames Water to clean up its act and stop dumping raw sewage into our local rivers.

Mark Hull is a founding member of the Oxford Rivers Improvement Campaign (ORIC), a group of Summertown residents with expertise in the water industry, business and infrastructure, committed to raising awareness about local river pollution. The group was formed in 2020 and is particularly concerned about the environmental and human impact of the rapidly increasing levels of raw sewage being dumped in local rivers.

A new report by the ORIC, The rivers around Oxford 2020, has highlighted this alarming increase, resulting from the long-term lack of investment in sewage treatment capacity and poor management. The problem has been exacerbated the Tory Government watering down environmental protections in 2018.

Using data from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and the National Rivers Trust, Mark Hull and fellow campaigners have been able to chart the extraordinary frequency of untreated sewage discharges. The typical treatment works in the Upper Thames area dumped untreated sewage for over 500 hours a year in 2020 (10 hours a week) – with many exceeding this.

Since 2018, the average duration of untreated sewage discharges has quadrupled from all works with available data. Many do not have the capacity to meet current demand, let alone treat the additional sewage flows from future planned development or cope with the increasing intensity of storms due to climate change.

Campaigner Mark Hull is calling for a coordinated and immediate response from Thames Water, the regulator Ofwat and the Environment Agency, working with local councils and national government to eliminate the practice of dumping untreated human sewage into Britain’s waterways. He is also pressing Government to provide increased regulatory powers for the Environment Agency.

Mark said: “Thames Water’s actions have revealed a shocking disregard for the well-being of the local environment and population over many years.¬† Thames Water has been allowed to use the Upper River Thames as a free open sewer and sewage treatment works. This is simply unacceptable!”

Mark called out the repeated failure of the Conservative Government and Thames Water to take action in a large demonstration on Port Meadow on 23rd January (pictured above).

Mark continued: “We need action now! Only full transparency and local accountability can restore confidence in this broken system.”

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