11 March 2022
River pollution correspondence with EA and letter to Defra SOC regarding Developers right to connect

Following our last meeting to discuss sewage and river pollution on Friday 10 December 2021 at Cotswold District Council Chamber in Cirencester (representatives from Thames Water, the Environment Agency, local Councillors, Local river campaigners and others) you may be interested to see the correspondence I have had with the Environment Agency regarding Professor Hammonds’ report on alleged illegal sewage spills.

At the instigation of Richard Aylard of Thames Water, I have also written to the Secretary of State to call on him to implement Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which removes developers' automatic right to connect rainwater drainage to combined sewage which will reduce pressures on the already overburdened sewerage system.

I was pleased to support the Government’s measures as set out in the Environment Act to better protect our rivers. However, the current state of many of our precious limestone rivers in the Cotswolds still requires substantial improvement. I will therefore continue to put pressure on the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Ministers at Defra to take substantive action on behalf of my constituents.

Dear Sir James,

Thank you for your reply of 15th November in response to our earlier letter enclosing a copy of Professor Hammonds’ report.

We both find the reply sent on your behalf woefully inadequate and complacent. When Members of Parliament write to the Chief Executive of an organisation, it is incumbent on them to reply personally otherwise we can only assume that the Environment Agency is not taking this matter seriously.

I have to inform you that if I do not receive a more satisfactory reply to this further letter, I will publicly raise this matter at the Public Accounts Committee when you next come before us. We will also have no choice but to raise the matter personally with the relevant Minister.

Returning to the substance of your reply, we cannot understand why you are not able to comment on specific sewage treatment works or allegations of illegal discharges. It is the job of a Member of Parliament to bring these matters to your attention and to hold your agency to account for its actions or inactions in relation to the allegations.

We would stress that we are not at this stage asking for your full judgement on the substance of Professor Hammonds' report, which we appreciate may require detailed investigation, but we would at the very least expect an answer to our question of whether the EA will be investigating the allegations made in the report. If you will indeed be investigating these specific allegations then we see no reason why you cannot assure us of this and provide details on the investigation and when we can expect to have the findings. If you do not intend to investigate these specific allegations, then we ought to receive an explanation for this decision.

Finally, the sentence where you state ‘We are managing these investigations along with other high priority work including incident response and several other investigations into major sewage pollution incidents.’ is unbelievably complacent.

Please would you now do us the courtesy of replying personally with considerably more detail of precisely the actions you are taking. We also wish to emphasise our original request for a meeting with you so that we may discuss these matters, and the contents of your anticipated second letter, in greater detail. 

Yours sincerely,



Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown F.R.I.C.S. M.P.

Member of Parliament for The Cotswolds