Cross party motion: Designated Bathing Water Status for the River Thames
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Cllr Linda Smith, seconded by Cllr Wolff proposed the submitted cross-party motion as set out in the agenda and briefing note. Cllr Gant supported the motion.
After debate and on being put to the vote the motion was agreed.
Council resolved to adopt the following motion:
This Council notes that the River Thames is chronically polluted with sewage. It is currently legal for Thames Water to dump raw, untreated sewage into the river at times of heavy rainfall when treatment works are overwhelmed. Its sewage works spilled untreated liquid waste into the upper Thames for over 17,000 hours during 2019.
Contact with polluted water can endanger people’s health; furthermore untreated sewage is bad for wildlife.
This Council asks Thames Water to immediately provide real time data of where and when sewage works are overflowing so that Oxford residents will know without delay about the risks of taking to the river to swim or participate in other water sports.
This Council calls on Thames Water to upgrade its sewage treatment works so they are fit for the 21st Century, and take account of a growing population and more extreme rainfall events due to climate change.
This Council notes that the Environment Agency has had its funding slashed since 2010 which has reduced its capacity to enforce environmental regulations. Environment Agency staff numbers have been cut and there has been a sharp decline in the amount of sampling carried out. Consequently pollution incidents have increased while the number of prosecutions have fallen.
This Council asks the Leader to write to urgethe city’s Members of Parliament to demand adequate government funding for the Environment Agency and to do all they can to hold the agency to account for the important responsibility it has protecting our waterways and to askour MPs to support stricter environmental legislation for the UK after we leave the EU, and reject any proposals to use Brexit to weaken current environmental protection laws.
This Council requests Cabinet adopt plans for an application for Designated Bathing Water Status for a stretch of the Thames in Oxford.
Designation by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs would mean improved monitoring of water quality and better protection for the river from pollution. It will ensure Oxford residents have access to the information they need to be properly informed about the risks of enjoying our beautiful river Isis.
Publication date: 16/10/2020
Date of decision: 05/10/2020
Decided at meeting: 05/10/2020 - Council