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Concerned villager complains about sewage in Derbyshire river where children and dogs play

Last year a section of the River Amber, in Ashover, was among 20 Derbyshire rivers that had raw sewage pumped into them.

The Environment Agency allowed water utilities to release sewage into rivers and streams with the River Amber seeing a total of 127 discharges by Severn Trent.

The spillages lasted 49 days.

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Polluted river Amber at Ashover

Mick Philbin, 62, from Asover lives in the Old Watermill on the river. He said every morning he wakes up to the view of polluted water going through his property.

He added: “I know that sewage discharged into rivers is a big national problem. But this river actually flows past my front door and I look at it every day. I’m concerned about the children and dogs that play in the river and the fact that it’s just not been addressed at all.”

“I’m not a scientist, but I have lived here over 40 years and I’ve walked past the river. It certainly seems to have deteriorated over the last two years. It’s gotten a lot worse. Now there’s nothing growing in it and there’s no life. It’s an environmental scandal that impacts our village.”

Last year Mr Philbin sent a request for information to Severn Trent under the Environmental Information Act. The company had a legal obligation to respond, but never did. Instead they contacted the Ashover Parish Council.

Mick Philbin with his dog next to the polluted river Amber at Ashover

In the statement which can be found in Ashover Parish Council Newsletter, Severn Trent said: “At Severn Trent we believe that river health is essential not only to the communities we serve, but also to our ability to provide vital water on tap. We created a microwebsite River Positive Pledges, which share our approach and commitments, alongside our current environmental performance. As part of the pledges, we are committing to reducing overflow spills to an average of 20 per year across our region by 2025.”

The council added: “The state of the river was of major concern to Ashover Parish Council and we raised the issue with Lee Rowley, our MP, and direct with Severn Trent. These responses do not fully address our concerns but we wanted to share the latest developments within the parish and we will share further updates.”

The issue of the Amber River will be raised at the Parish council meeting on Friday, September 23. The Severn Trent has been invited to the talks

Mr Philbin said: “I’d like the Severn Trent to increase the capacity at the sewage plant.

Polluted river Amber at Ashover. Seen local resident Mick Philbin.

“They’re going to build more houses in the area. The planning permissions have been granted. The population is increasing, but there is no extra capacity on the sewage pump. Severn Trent needs to stop pumping the raw sewerage to the river whenever they feel like it.”

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A Severn Trent spokesperson said: ”We’re investing in the area with an improvement project underway at our sewage treatment works in Derby to increase capacity which will further reduce the use of storm overflows on the river, due for completion in 2025.

“Storm overflows, which are used in storm conditions to prevent flooding in customer homes and businesses, account for 3 per cent of rivers in England not achieving good ecological status. We’re already working hard to use storm overflows less and we’re investing £100m a year to go even further in improving rivers so that nature can continue to thrive. As part of our Get River Positive commitments we will reduce the use of storm overflows to an average of 20 per year by 2025 and pledge that our operations will not be the reason for unhealthy rivers by 2030, based on Environment Agency measures.”

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