Rebecca Pow, Minister for nature recovery and the domestic environment, recently spoke to The Telegraph about the Clean Rivers campaign in her Somerset constituency of Taunton Deane and said new developments could have to prove they had sustainable drainage systems before they were allowed to connect to local sewage networks in order to avoid them becoming overwhelmed and pumping sewage into rivers.
These new rules are likely to include restrictions on homeowners’ solid paved driveways.
As well as driveways, the Government is looking to introduce ponds to allow water to soak into the ground rather than run off into drains where it can cause sewage systems to overflow.
The Government is still reviewing builders’ “right to connect” with a view to making it conditional on having sustainable drainage.
This could mean an end to extensive paving and more green spaces in new developments.
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“It’s quite possible to have the housing we need, but we have to make it sustainable.
“The point is that by making it more sustainable, these are lovely places to live. So it’s a win-win.”
Ms Pow was adamant that households need to do more to stop drains becoming overwhelmed as this can trigger sewage to overflow.
She added: “There’s a lot of water getting down into our drains and getting muddled up with the sewage that doesn’t need to be there.”
She said: “He’s been in Defra, of course, so actually I think it’s going to be very helpful.”
The issue of pollution from raw sewage being offloaded into rivers has risen up the political agenda recently.
Ms Pow said the Government was acting “as fast as we possibly can” on what she said had been a hidden problem before water companies began monitoring their storm overflows in the last five years.
She added: “Whilst you could say the situation is not where we’d like it to be, I’m really pleased and proud that I’m there as the water minister driving this on.
“We’ve literally prioritised this more than it’s ever been prioritised.”