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UK government U-turns on sewage after Tory MPs threaten rebellion

Tory

UK government U-turns on sewage after Tory MPs threaten rebellion

The government has announced a partial U-turn over the sewage amendment after Tory rebels threatened to scupper an upcoming vote in the Commons.

Under new rules, there will be a duty on water companies to reduce the impact of sewage discharges from storm overflows. This means the organisations will be required by law to show a reduction in sewage overspills over the next five years.

Last week, 22 Conservative MPs rebelled against the government to vote in favour of an amendment to the environment bill that would have placed a legal duty on water companies not to pump waste into rivers.

The amendment was rejected in the Commons, and the negative reaction of constituents took some Tory MPs by surprise.

Philip Dunne, one of the Conservative rebels and the chair of the environment audit committee, said: “I am confident that although it was just 22 of us last week, awareness of this issue has been raised. There were many who abstained, and many who did not understand the gravity of the issue who have been made aware by constituents and colleagues.

“I am not whipping this vote so I can’t give you certainty but I believe if this goes back to the Commons it will be very close, enough to worry the government.”

It remains to be seen whether the partial U-turn will quell the rebellion and widespread outrage over the failed amendment.

There were 403,171 spills of sewage into England’s rivers and seas in 2020, according to the Environment Agency, adding up to more than 3.1m hours of spillages.

The government has blamed a variety of factors for the increasing sewage spills, including Victorian infrastructure and climate breakdown.

An environment minister said there had been a tussle against the government, as No 10 and the Treasury believe that putting this duty on water companies, which would have to massively upgrade infrastructure, would be too expensive.

The minister said: “Basically we have been working for ages on how to put this stuff in law – a duty on the water companies – and it will be introduced when it goes back to the Commons. But what is infuriating is that even if the bill went through completely unchanged, it represents raising the bar beyond anything we have ever had before.

“So to have people like Lord Adonis imply that everything is currently fine and that we are coming along post-Brexit and legislating to allow crap to go into the rivers is not only wrong, it is a blatant lie – designed to whip people up into a frenzy of hate. But the government has been slow. And the move in the Commons will look like a concession when in fact we have been working on it for weeks.”

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson criticised the current “failure of water companies to adequately reduce sewage discharges [as] unacceptable” and said it sympathised with the intentions of the amendment.

However, he said the cost of forcing water companies to “take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows” had not been estimated – warning it could be up to £150bn.

“Following a debate in the House of Commons last week during the final stages of the environment bill, today we are announcing that we will put that commitment on a statutory footing with a new clause,” the spokesperson said.

The Duke of Wellington, who brought the bill, on Tuesday asked peers to back it a second time. It would ask water companies “to take all reasonable steps to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged from storm overflows”.

The cross-bench peer told the Evening Standard: “This is particularly important for London. Anyone who saw the BBC Panorama programme in April will have learned about the embarrassing state of the riverbed of the Thames and the enormous quantity of sewage, which is regularly discharged into the river.”

The environment bill contains some measures to protect Britain’s waterways from sewage, including a new duty directly on water companies to publish information within one hour on the operation of storm overflows. It also obliges water companies to monitor the water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflows and sewage disposal works.

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Osun LP Guber Candidate, Lasun Rejoins PDP

Yusuf Lasun, a former deputy speaker of the house of representatives, has rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke made the announcement on Wednesday at the PDP presidential rally in Osogbo, the Osun capital.

“The former deputy speaker has joined the PDP family. He used to be in PDP, but today, he has decided to come and join the PDP family,” the governor said.

Lasun, who was present at the rally, hailed supporters after a terse remark.

Lasun had contested the 2022 governorship election in Osun on the platform of the Labour Party (LP).

Adeleke came first in the election; Gboyega Oyetola of the APC placed second; Kehinde Atanda of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) came third; while Lasun came a distant fourth.

He was a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until February when he resigned from the party after losing the party’s governorship ticket.

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I Can’t Contest For President Again; It Will Diminish Me- Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s former president, has said he will never contest for the Presidency of the country again.

The Ex-president said it would amount to diminishing himself if he should decide to begin to lobby people and campaign for election again.

Jonathan said this in an interview published in a book, ‘My Time As Chaplain In Aso Rock,” presented to the public on Tuesday.

The book written by Nathaniel Bivan contains the accounts of the Chaplain of the Aso Rock Villa Chapel during the Jonathan administration, Obioma Onwuzurumba.

“If you wake up tomorrow and see that I am President again, that means there may have been circumstances beyond my control. But not to go and pick one form and go and start lobbying people and running for campaigns; I can’t do that again. If I do that, I will diminish myself,” the former President said.

Jonathan said he enjoyed the drama that characterised the rumour earlier in the year that he had purchased a nomination form of the All Progressives Congress to enable him to contest for the party’s presidential ticket.

Ahead of the June 2022 APC presidential primary, a group, Nomadic Pastoralists and Almajirai Community, led by Ibrahim Abdullahi, purchased the N100m nomination and expression of interest forms in Jonathan’s name.

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NMDPRA Assures Nigerians Of Steady Fuel Supply

The Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) says the queues at filling stations will soon disappear as marketers commence massive loading of petroleum products.

Mr Ahmed Farouk, Chief Executive of NMDPRA, gave the assurance during a stock monitoring exercise within depots in Lagos on Wednesday.

The NMDPRA boss led staff of the Authority to NIPCO, Total, Aiteo, OVH, Conoil, 11 Plc and HOGL depots in Apapa for on the spot assessment.

Farouk said the stock taking exercise was to ensure availability and effective distribution of petroleum products across the nation to reduce queues at filling stations.

“The essence of this exercise is to ensure that the entire states are wet with petroleum products to avoid scarcity and panic buying by commuters during this period.

“As an Authority, we are doing everything within our powers to make sure that there are enough petroleum products in the system to help alleviate the sufferings of commuters.

“With the issue of scarcity across the nation, l found it necessary that NMDPRA come and ensure that there is even distribution of petroleum products across the nation, especially petrol.

“I am comfortable with the the load-out of petrol across the depots.

“The current distribution of petrol across the nation will address the issue of tightness in the market,” he said.

The NMDPRA boss said all depots in Apapa had products and were loading massively to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other states.

He said three vessels were also discharging petrol at Apapa jetty to MOMAN, DAPPMAN and other depots.

Farouk urged Nigerians not to panic and avoid panic buying, while assuring of availability of sufficient products at filling stations across the country.

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