Parish council steps up campaign to clean up Saddleworth streams

THE parish council has stepped up its campaign to get United Utilities to pick up the bill for cleaning up Saddleworth’s streams.

A motion condemning sewage discharge into the area’s waters was proposed by Kathryn Phillips, leader of the parish council’s Labour group, and supported by every parish councillor at July’s Full Council meeting.

As such, the council will be writing to United Utilities requesting detailed plans, including a timetable, to “ensure discharges into our local waters are prevented in future” and called for the clean-up costs to be “met by United Utilities and their shareholders and not paid for by customers.

Parish Councillor Kathryn Phillips at the River Tame

The parish council also supported calls for mandatory monitoring of sewage outlets and increased fines for sewage discharges.

United Utilities, which provides water and wastewater services across the North West, will also be invited to attend a future parish council meeting.

Cllr Phillips said: “It’s outrageous that the private water companies discharge sewage into streams and rivers and then expect all of us to pay the clean-up costs.

“Ofwat has failed to regulate the water industry and let them get away with paying out huge dividends to shareholders instead of investing in clean water.

“For example, United Utilities paid £300 million to shareholders this year. Since privatisation, water companies have borrowed £63 billion and are now £60 billion in debt.

“There has to be a better way to make sure everyone has a clean, reliable water supply.”

United Utilities told the Independent that the company continues to make investments in wastewater treatment works in Saddleworth and welcomes the opportunity to update the parish council on its plans.

A spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering a step change in performance and since 2020 we have reduced the operation of storm overflows by a third but we know there is more to do.

“With the largest combined sewer network in the country and 28 per cent more rainfall in our region than the UK average, we have ambitious plans to deliver further improvements through one of the biggest environmental programmes in the country. We now have approval to fast track that and begin to deliver £1.5 billion of improvements early – including numerous projects to reduce the use of overflows along the River Tame.

“On top of this, we are continuing to make investments in our wastewater treatment works – this includes work at Mossley and Saddleworth on the River Tame.

“We’d welcome the opportunity to talk to the parish councillors about our investment plans for the region and are in the process of scheduling a date to do so.”

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