Data showing the amount and duration of raw sewage discharges in Wales throughout 2019 is now available to view on our Sewage Map
Because of devolution across the different nations of the UK, there are several pieces of environmental legislation in Wales relating to the environment which do not apply in England. Some of these affect the way that sewage is treated in Wales, and it’s important to bear in mind when looking at the Welsh data on our Sewage Map.
One big difference between our data for Wales and England is that a higher percentage of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) is monitored in Wales than in England. This means that we can’t really make an accurate comparison of the number or duration of sewage spills between the two nations. What we can say is that we have a more comprehensive picture of the situation in Wales.
Environmental legislation in Wales
Wales has brought in a number of measures intended to improve the water environment which do not apply in England. Here are some of the key ones:
Flood and Water Management Act 2010
This law applies to England and Wales as a whole, but the Welsh government have added elements to it which exclusively cover Wales. This includes taking away building developers’ automatic right to connect sewage and rainwater drains, which is currently seen as a big contributor to the amount of sewage in rivers and watercourses. Each local authority in Wales now has a specific body for approving new housing developments and ensure they use Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).
Environment (Wales) Act 2016
This act passed by the Welsh government indicated a strong commitment to environmental delivery. It includes clauses on flooding and waste management which go further than laws in England currently enforce.
Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015
The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. In particular, the Welsh Government has an objective to connect communities through sustainable and resilient infrastructure.
All in all, it is important that our datasets for Wales and England are viewed in this context. Making data on CSO discharges free and accessible is a vital step towards ending sewage pollution.