Recently the environmental scandal of discharging sewage directly into our rivers and coastal waters reached a new nadir.  

Whilst the executives of the water companies were paying themselves more than £14-million in bonuses for “environmental performance” it was revealed that sewage was discharged more than 300,000 times last year.

In Devon this threatens the cleanliness of our beaches and rivers and in turn the tourism that is the bedrock of our local economy.

All the government has come up with are targets to reduce, not eliminate, pollution and to give water companies licence to increase the bills of consumers to pay for it.  Anything more radical cannot be afforded it is argued.

At every general and local election we have the chance to vote for the political parties pledged to tackle this and many other environmental crises, the Green Party being one the most prominent.  

And, we the electorate do not do so in any meaningful way even though we are desperate to clean up the environment.  Why?

Surely, it is because as it stands under our First Past The Post system to vote green is considered understandably a wasted vote.  

The only way to address this dangerous situation is to reform our electoral system to Proportional Representation.  With a fairer voting system it would no longer be a waste of political pressure to vote for any smaller party promising to force environmental issues up to the top of the agenda.

We have experienced “Great Stinks” before throughout history when waterways have dried up in very hot weather and the resultant water borne diseases such as cholera have taken hold, have spread and killed.

The causal link of almost perpetual Conservative power resulting in a dangerous level of political complacency over environmental issues is now so evident. 

Starting at the bottom we must build a new political consensus of co-operation between parties whose share of the vote is reflected in Parliament. 

By reforming our democracy now, and introducing a fairer voting system we can elect more representatives who share our genuine concerns for the state of our rivers and seas and to stop rewarding the polluters and their misdeeds.  

Without P.R. this may never happen but with it the electorate will very quickly realise that their votes actually mean something for the first time.

Jennifer Jones

Compass Northern Devon