STROUD MP Siobhan Baillie was one of just 22 Conservatives to vote in favour of reducing the amount of raw sewage dumped into rivers and seas.

The vote was held in Parliament on Wednesday, October 20, where an amendment to the Environment Bill from the Duke of Wellington put forward in the House of Lords was rejected.

Ms Baillie was one of 22 Conservatives to rebel against the Government by voting for the amendment which sought to place a legal duty on water companies not to pump sewage into rivers.

The amendment proposed forcing companies and the government to "take all reasonable steps" to avoid using combined sewer overflows, which regularly release waste into rivers and seas.

But the amendment was voted down by 265 Tory MPs.

Sewage can be pumped out of the sewage system and into rivers through combined sewer overflows – otherwise known as a storm overflow or release valve.

The overflows are designed to release excess water following heavy rainfall or a storm to stop sewage backing up into homes.

To stop this happening, water companies are allowed to release the rainwater, and a smaller amount of untreated sewage into the country’s waterways.

The Environment Agency has reported that in the last year, raw sewage was discharged into coastal waters and rivers in England more than 400,000 times, which Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) branded “unacceptable”.

Ms Baillie has campaigned for a Government commitment to legislate to reduce sewage pollution in rivers mainly from storm overflows.

She previously backed fellow MP Philip Dunne’s private members’ bill on the issue. Philip Dunne also walked through the opposition voting lobby.

Ms Baillie said: “The Government has come a very long way in tackling pollution in our rivers through the Environment Bill, which does now include many elements of Philip’s bill.

“However, imposing a duty on water companies to reduce raw sewage discharges through storm overflows into our rivers was a key red line for myself and many other MPs.

“We would have liked the Government to support it and we are disappointed it did not quite get there. I hope the Government will recognise the strength of feeling on this important measure and reconsider.

“We need to clean up our rivers. In the 21st century it is completely unacceptable that so much raw sewage is going into them. With so much work going on locally to restore our canal network and the mighty River Severn on our doorstep, this is an issue many local people care about and I will keep up the fight.”

The Bill will go back before peers for scrutiny after the amendment was voted down.