ILKLEY'S MP is calling on Government ministers to make sure the Environment Agency has the power to stop the River Wharfe being polluted by raw sewage.

John Grogan last week met with representatives of the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Ilkley Town Council and a local campaign group to discuss the long running issue of sewage overflows into the River Wharfe.

Mr Grogan said the continued flows of sewage into the river had led him to argue for an additional recommendation to be inserted in a House of Commons report on the water industry by the Select Committee for Environment, Rural Affairs and Food. Mr Grogan is a member of the Committee which published the report on Tuesday.

A key recommendation asks the Government to: 'review whether the Environment Agency has the necessary powers and resources to enforce a drastic reduction in sewage overflows into rivers.’

Mr Grogan said: "The plain fact of the matter is that the situation in Ilkley is a prime example of what is a national problem.

"According to research from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature over 40 per cent of rivers in England and Wales are polluted with sewage and the situation is getting worse. It should not be legally acceptable to frequently discharge sewage into our rivers."

Ministers are expected to respond to the Select Committee’s report by early in the New Year.

At the meeting in Ilkley it was confirmed that a new pump and screen filter at the Ashlands Road Treatment works would be installed in the next six months. A temporary pump had already been installed.

Mr Grogan added: "Both the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water expressed surprise that the discharges of sewage were occurring so frequently into the River Wharfe and said additional water ‘ infiltrations’ must be entering the system from an unknown source. It was agreed that the Town Mayor and I would jointly write to the Chief Executive of Yorkshire Water asking that the investigation of these ‘ infiltrations’ be made an urgent priority."

A campaign group made up of Ilkley residents continues to urge Yorkshire Water to stop discharging raw sewage into the River Wharfe every time it rains.

Becky Malby, of the campaign group said: "Not only is it killing the water life, it is making people ill. We have collected lots of stories of people being really unwell as a result of swimming in the river. We are a spa town with tourism and business heavily dependent on the town having a beautiful and healthy environment."

The group is calling on the Environment Agency to monitor the water treatment works in Ilkley to check it is compliant at all times with legislation and ensure it is fit for the current and growing population of the town. It also wants signs to be put up by the river saying it is not safe to swim.

Becky added: "We want Yorkshire Water to take some ethical and moral responsibility for the public health risks associated with discharging into a river in a spa town with tourists who come to visit and play by and in the river."

To find out more about the campaign group visit: