Richmond councillor calls for tougher measures against polluters

A Green Party councillor has demanded tougher measures against polluters after an oil spill in Richmond Park.

Andrée Frieze, who represents Ham, Petersham & Richmond Riverside, challenged the Environment Agency to find and punish those responsible for the damage to Beverley Brook.

Her challenge reflects concerns from environmental groups that climate issues have been overshadowed by the debate on issues including gas prices, Ukraine and the soaring cost of living. 

Frieze said: “We hear all too often about companies polluting our waterways and getting away with it.

“Absolutely the Environment Agency needs to be doing more and it needs to be stronger about the actions it takes, we simply can’t have this happening.”

Allegations were made by Wimbledon and Putney Commons that the heavy oil was dumped and Thames Water has established a third party was behind the pollution.

Staff shortages and a lack of transparency at the Environment Agency have allowed companies to flout the rules and too often go unpunished, Frieze claimed.

She added: “People have been vigilant in reporting pollution incidents, but a failure to enforce existing regulations means creating more rules won’t necessarily help.

“Maybe the Environment Agency itself needs investigating to see whether its working properly and then it can start dealing the way it should with pollution spills.”

Colin Cooper, chief executive of Twickenham charity Habitats and Heritage, said: “It’s really important to talk about environmental issues because you, me, our families all have to live in it.

“If we poison our lakes and rivers we poison ourselves.”

A clean-up operation is under way after oil waste was spotted in Pyl Brook, Morden on 27 March before flowing into Beverley Brook.

Thames Water said: “We’re aware of oil pollution in Pyl Brook and Beverley Brook and have been working with the Environment Agency and contractors to minimise its spread and impact to the river.”

The Environment Agency was approached for comment.

Contact Thames Water at 0800 316 9800 to report any pollution incidents.

Featured image credit: Amanda Boardman via Friends of Richmond Park

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