New homes could be designed to have semi-permeable driveways under new rules being developed.
Taunton MP Rebecca Pow, who is also environment minister and a member of DEFRA, told the Telegraph that new homes could only connect to local sewage systems if developers could show they had a sustainable drainage system.
The possible new changes come as many English rivers are filled with a ‘chemical cocktail’ of sewage, agricultural waste and plastic, potentially harming public health.
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Ms Pow said: ‘There’s a lot of water going down our drains and getting tangled up with sewage that doesn’t need to be there.
“So we need to have water reservoirs in our gardens. We need to have semi-permeable membranes on our walkways rather than tarmac so that the water doesn’t rush, it gets impregnates and retains water.
The debate over how best to protect England’s freshwater systems comes as the environmental audit committee says only 14% of England’s rivers are in good ecological condition.
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He added that it was difficult to get a full picture of the health of the rivers due to “outdated, underfunded and inadequate monitoring” and until the passage of the Environment Act the last year, there was a “lack of political will” to improve water quality.
Among the issues raised by the group are river quality monitoring that does not identify microplastics, persistent chemical pollutants or antimicrobial resistant pathogens that cross rivers.
In his report, he added that fats, oils and greases, as well as cleaning and hygiene products containing plastic, also cause problems for drainage systems – while plastic hygiene products single-use clog pipes and sewers.
Removing impervious surfaces on our driveways and adding features such as ponds would help reduce unnecessary overflow from sewage systems, it is claimed.
Therefore, new rules could require home builders to have sustainable drainage as part of the waterway cleanup plan.
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