OXFORDSHIRE councillors have called on the government to ban dumping of sewage in rivers.

A motion proposed by West Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for the environment Norman MacRae and councillor Steve Good was approved at a council meeting on Wednesday.

Mr MacRae said: “Dumping sewage in our beautiful rivers is unacceptable no matter what the weather or the circumstances are.”

Mr MacRae added that a letter will now be written to environment secretary Theresa Villiers, calling for legislation to be set in place by the end of the year.

See also: Villagers fear someone is attacking cats after latest shooting

Witney Town Council recently issued a warning after sewage spilled into streams following heavy rainfall in the lead-up to Christmas.

Under current legislation, Thames Water has a permit regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) to release sewage into rivers when its system is under strain.

Ashley Smith, from campaign group Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, said: “Environmental protection and campaigning should not be the sole territory of volunteer groups as it has been for far too long.

“It is great to see our local elected representatives standing up for the community.”

Read more: Driver 'speeds off' after hitting car and injuring girl

A spokesperson for Thames Water said: “We only allow wastewater to overflow into rivers when we have no alternative way of preventing people's homes and workplaces from being flooded with sewage.

“We’re complying with all our permits and working hard to provide the best service we can, while also looking at how we can improve the system for the future.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the EA said: “Untreated or partially-treated sewage may be discharged into rivers in exceptional circumstances.

“It is an offence if discharges are made outside of permit conditions and we are committed to working with others to protect and improve the river.”