Parliament has now risen for Easter recess and I hope you were all able to spend some time with your loved ones over the Easter weekend and reflect on the meaning of the holiday.

I have spent the past week working in Cornwall and it has been good to visit one of the public consultation events held by Imerys British Lithium project, as well as welcoming the Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper MP to Newquay to showcase the exciting Mid Cornwall Metro plans.

One prominent story last week was the publication of storm overflow data by the Environment Agency (EA). I know that the issue of sewage discharges through storm overflows is an important issue to many people in Mid-Cornwall. It is for me too and something I have worked on continually since becoming an MP in 2015.

The government, with the Environment Act, has taken more steps than any before to crack down on spills and work with the water industry to improve water quality. This is no easy job, as dealing with the often-Victorian era water infrastructure is difficult in itself.

Firstly, we only now know of the number of discharges because of the monitoring this government has put in place. In 2010 only seven per cent of storm overflows were monitored. Now 100 per cent are monitored thanks to the action we have taken since 2016. England is now a world leader in the number of storm overflows monitored. It is not because they have massively increased, but more that the means to monitor the situation are now in place.

Next is working with the water companies, like South West Water, to do something about it. This means taking practical and sensible steps to crackdown on overflows and upgrade the water infrastructure without negatively impacting on the billpayers.

For example, the environment secretary recently announced £180-million in fast-tracked water company investment over the next 12 months, expected to prevent more than 8,000 sewage spills polluting English waterways.

And when I was water minister in 2022 I published The Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan, which means that water companies will face strict targets to reduce storm overflows starting with those affecting bathwaters.

Finally, if the water companies are still allowing pollution incidents when they are preventable, the government has increased the sanctions that can be levelled against them. Since 2015, the EA has concluded 60 prosecutions against water and sewerage companies securing fines of over £150-million.

We live in a beautiful part of the world and our marine and coastal environments are a major part of that. I will continue to work with the government and South West Water to ensure positive steps continue to be taken to crackdown on spills, upgrade the water infrastructure and hold water companies to account, to ensure these precious places are protected for all.

As ever, if I can be of assistance on any matter, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance – call 01726 829379 or email [email protected]