River Mersey should be sewage-free by 2030, says metro mayor

Image source, Liverpool City Region
Image caption,
Steve Rotheram says enormous strides have been made since the 1980s in cleaning up the Mersey

Plans to make the River Mersey sewage-free by 2030 have been announced by Liverpool City Region's mayor.

Steve Rotheram wants to accelerate by 10 years a previous commitment for a significantly cleaner Mersey by 2040.

The city region will no longer invest in any projects which pump untreated waste into rivers, said Mr Rotheram.

His plans are backed by former Conservative environment minister Lord Heseltine, who first sought to clean up the river in the 1980s.

Lord Heseltine helped establish the Mersey Basin Campaign Partnership, which was instrumental in bringing together public and private sector organisations to reduce pollution.

'Open sewer'

"We have made enormous strides since the 1980s when Lord Heseltine rightly described the state of the River Mersey as 'an affront to the standards a civilised society should demand of its environment'," said Mr Rotheram.

"The river today is an environmental success story but, as recent public anger over the discharge of untreated sewage into our rivers and seas shows, we cannot be complacent and must do all that we can to ensure we care for our great river."

Lord Heseltine said: "In 1981 I looked out of my hotel window one night. There was this mighty river which had played so critical a role in our history, and we had turned it into an open sewer.

"After 25 years the momentum faltered. Today's announcement is that vision reborn."

"I congratulate Steve Rotheram and all who played a part in this decision. I believe that we should see this as a world-class initiative."

Liverpool City region covers Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton in Cheshire.

Last month a House of Lords amendment to the Environment Bill that would have placed legal duties on water companies to reduce sewage discharged into rivers was defeated in the Commons.

The government's Environment Bill was eventually passed following a lengthy battle over the amount of sewage released into rivers.

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