Plastic wet wipes set to be banned across England
The government said it wants to ban wipes containing plastic, subject to a public consultation
Wet wipes containing plastic are set to be banned across England in a bid to tackle water pollution.
Environment Minister, Therese Coffey told BBC News a ban on plastic-based wipes should come into force in the next year, following a consultation. The move comes as part of wider plans to improve water quality in England, where no river or waterway is considered clean.
Those who pollute could also see tougher enforcement. But the plans came under criticism from opposition MPs and environmental groups accusing the government of reheating failed measures ‘that give the green light to sewage dumping’.
Ms Coffey told BBC News: “Our proposal is to ban plastic from wet wipes. She added that a short consultation needed to take place first, saying: “It’s a legal requirement to make sure that we can go ahead with any ban.”
Wet wipes flushed down toilets cause 93% of sewer blockages including so-called fatbergs and cost around £100m a year to clear up, according to Water UK which represents the water industry.
Around 90% of wipes contained plastic in 2021, although there are now some alternatives available to buy. The plastics do not break down and over time the wipes become snagged and stick together, causing sewage to stop moving through pipes.
While there are some biodegradable options now available on shop shelves, most products contain plastics which do not break down — causing them to clog up pipes over time. Some companies, including Boots and Tesco, have already stopped the sale of wet wipes which contain plastic from their stores.
In its Plan for Water published on Monday night, the government said it wants to ban the plastic containing wipes subject to a public consultation, and will work with industry to make sure environmentally friendly alternatives are available.
The government announced on Sunday that water companies could face unlimited fines for releasing untreated sewage into rivers and seas without good reason. Figures show an average of 825 sewage spills per day into England’s waterways in the last year. According to the Environment Agency (EA), new figures showed water companies took no action to reduce pollution despite discharges falling by 19% in 2022.
But environmental charity River Action UK said the government had been ‘asleep at the wheel’ for many years and had allowed rivers to ‘fill up with untreated human effluent and toxic agricultural pollution’. Water companies, who spend millions of pounds clearing up blockages caused by wet wipes, are in favour of a ban.
Responding to the Plan for Water Labour’s shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon said: “This announcement is nothing more than a shuffling of the deck chairs and a reheating of old, failed measures that simply give the green light for sewage dumping to continue for decades to come.
“This is the third sham of a Tory water plan since the summer. There’s nothing in it that tells us how, if or when they will end the Tory sewage scandal.”
Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said: “After years of burying their heads, ministers have finally surfaced to tackle the scourge of sewage and pollution in our waterways and along our coasts.It’s clear the Conservatives can also smell a local election in the air and are only acting in response to public pressure.
“The actions are too little too late, and still leave the water industry in private hands able to profit from failure.”
Boy, 11, left in critical condition after being hit by police van
Awful news this morning
A boy has been left in critical condition in hospital following an incident with a police van last night.
The 11-year-old was struck by a police van in Lancaster on Thursday night, May 25th, as the van was attending a call.
Lancashire Police say the vehicle was en route to an emergency call when the collision happened.
The boy was crossing Owen Road just before 8:30 pm when he was hit, and was transported to Royal Lancaster Infirmary in a critical condition.
A police spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the child’s loved ones at this time.
“An investigation is underway to establish the full circumstances that led to the collision.
“We have voluntarily referred this matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), as is standard with an incident of this nature.”
The IOPC said in a statement: “We have declared an independent investigation into the actions of Lancashire Police prior to a road traffic collision in Owen Road, Lancaster at around 8.30pm tonight, in which a child has been injured.
“We understand that a marked police van, with its lights and sirens on, was in a collision with an 11-year-old boy.
“We were notified by the force shortly after the collision and declared an investigation at 10.37pm. IOPC investigators are heading to the scene and the police post incident procedure to begin gathering information.”
According to the IOPC, the investigation is in its early stages.
Sam Smith cancels upcoming shows due to ‘vocal cord injury’ and tells fans ‘I’m so sorry’
‘Refunds will be available at point of purchase for all three dates; Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow’
Sam Smith has cancelled their upcoming shows due to a vocal cord injury and issued a statement telling fans, ‘I’m so sorry’.
The singer had to call off their Gloria Tour show, mid-way through, at Manchester AO Arena last night (Wednesday May 24th) after experiencing ‘vocal issues’.
The lights went off and fans waited in darkness for a number of minutes as speculation circulated on social media, with many wondering if there had been a ‘power cut’.
Moments later, after just four songs, a packed-out arena was told the show unfortunately had to be called off.
Afterwards, Sam, 31, issued a statement on their Instagram stories to tell fans — who had missed out on a ‘surprise’ that was supposed to be at the end of the show — how ‘sorry’ they were.
Today, Thursday May 25th, the ‘Unholy’ singer has issued another statement after calling off upcoming gigs.
On their Instagram stories, the star wrote: “Due to vocal issues during last night’s Manchester performance, regrettably we will be cancelling the rescheduled Birmingham and Glasgow Sam Smith shows.
“Refunds will be available at point of purchase for all three dates; Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
“A spokesperson said ‘Doctors have advised due to a vocal cord injury, Sam must have complete vocal rest’.
“Sam is heartbroken to have had to cancel these shows but they have been told by doctors that if they keep singing, they will do permanent damage to their voice.
“If they take some rest they will be able to perform again. I’m so sorry.”
Sam already had to push back the Birmingham and Glasgow gigs after suffering from a virus several weeks ago.
After calling off last night’s show at Manchester’s AO Arena, Sam wrote on their Instagram story: “Today in soundcheck I felt fine and was so excited to give Manchester an amazing show tonight, with a special surprise at the end.
“During my third song, I noticed something wrong with my voice. I prayed it was just my voice waking up for the show but into the fourth song I could feel something was really wrong.”
The pop singer added: “I came off stage and have tried everything to get my voice back in gear but it won’t.
“I am honestly heartbroken I couldn’t finish the show tonight for you all. I love you all. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.”
Body found in river in search for missing 24-year-old woman
Shannon’s family have been informed
A body has been found in a river in the search for a missing woman from Lancashire.
Police searching for Shannon Canning from Lancaster say they have found a body. The 24-year-old had been missing from home since the early hours of Friday May 19th.
A search operation was launched to find the young woman who did not turn up for work at Tipple bar on Friday afternoon.
Public appeals for help were launched by her family and the police force, who said they were concerned for her welfare as the disappearance was out of character.
Lancashire Police have confirmed the body of a woman was found in the River Lune near Halton on Wednesday afternoon, May 24th. Shannon’s family has been informed.
Patrols were increased during the week and specialist divers joined the search yesterday. Officers were called at around 4.20pm Wednesday afternoon when the discovery was made.
A statement from Lancashire Police said: “Sadly, officers searching for missing Shannon Canning have an update, following a body recovered from the River Lune.
“We can confirm that we were called today (May 24th) at around 4:20pm to a report that a body had been found in the River Lune, near Halton.
“Specialist search teams have subsequently attended the area and can sadly confirm that the body of a woman has been recovered.
“Although formal identification has yet to take place, we believe the body to be that of missing Shannon Canning.
“Shannon’s family have been made aware of this sad development and our thoughts are with them at this upsetting time.”