‘Chemical cocktail’ polluting English rivers – MPs warn

Raw sewage, microplastics and slurry are coursing through all of England’s rivers, putting health and nature at risk, a parliamentary report concludes.

Agriculture and water companies are the biggest contributors to this “chemical cocktail”, the Environmental Audit Committee warns.

Car tyre particles, oils and wet wipes are also clogging waterways.

The environment minister said the report highlighted areas the government was currently tackling.

People across the country using rivers for activities ranging from sports and swimming to fishing risk falling ill from bacteria in sewage and slurry.

The water and riverbanks are also home to rich plant, fish and insect life and are essential to biodiversity. But chemicals, plastics and an excess of nutrients are choking the water.

No river in England can be given a clean bill of health, the group of MPs on the committee concluded after months of hearing from experts.

Budget cuts are hampering the Environment Agency’s ability to stop pollution, says the report.

“Rivers are the arteries of nature and must be protected. Our inquiry has uncovered multiple failures in the monitoring, governance and enforcement on water quality,” Environmental Audit Committee chairman and MP Philip Dunne said.

“For too long, the government, regulators and the water industry have allowed a Victorian sewerage system to buckle under increasing pressure.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We are going further and faster than any other government to protect and enhance the health of our rivers and seas.

“We welcome the Environmental Audit Committee’s report which highlights many areas that this government is now tackling.”

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