The under-secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rebecca Pow says the anger over raw sewage deposits is part of a “social media storm [that] has been whipped up.”

Luke Pollard, the shadow secretary of state for the environment, said: “Whipping their own MPs to vote against an amendment to end the routine discharge of raw sewage does nothing to build confidence and has sparked a public outcry, and rightly so.”

But Pow defended the government, saying that the amendment proposed by MPs would have cost between “£300 and £600 billion”, and that “£3 billion is already being spent by the water companies to stop sewage going into our rivers”.