PHILIP Dunne, MP for Ludlow, has introduced a bill in parliament that is intended to clean up rivers.

The MP, who chairs an all-party parliamentary environmental group, has introduced the bill after being picked in a ballot.

It is a private members bill and therefore may well not make it into law unless it gets Government support.

The measures are intended to stop raw sewage being put directly into rivers and streams without being treated.

Most household and industrial sewage goes to a sewage works in a foul water sewer and is treated before being put back into rivers but some can be discharged along with rainwater run off through combined sewer outflows. These discharges can be highly polluting and kill fish.

“Our rivers are a vital part of our natural heritage.

“It is right the Government has committed to restoring at least three quarters of our waters to their natural state,” said Mr Dunne.

“But it is clear from last week’s latest assessment from the Environment Agency that we are a long way from achieving that, with fewer than one in six of our rivers in good health. This threatens the aquatic life and iconic species that rely on these precious habitats, such as freshwater fish, kingfishers, otters and dippers.

“The discharge of untreated sewage is a major part of the problem, entering our rivers from the very treatment works whose purpose is to clean it up. Our regulations and investment have not kept pace with changes in behaviour and pressure from development, so now pollutants enter our rivers untreated, with the perpetrators licensed to spill.

“This poses a significant health risk to those who wish to enjoy our rivers for leisure and recreation.

“The River Severn and its tributaries the Clun, Corve, Kemp, Onny, Rea, Teme and Worfe all flow through my constituency. “They are nothing like as healthy as when I was a child, but they should be.

“That is why I have brought forward this Bill, which aims to cut discharges of raw sewage into our rivers - protecting our precious habitats for wildlife and people to enjoy.”

The Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill places a duty on water companies to ensure that untreated sewage is not discharged into rivers and other inland waters. The Bill will require water companies to set out plans progressively to reduce their reliance on combined sewer overflows.