OTLEY'S MP is pushing for a 'water fountain revolution' to combat the problem of plastic waste.

Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) has put forward proposals for the scheme - which he wants towns like Otley and Yeadon to help pioneer - to the Environmental Audit Committee.

Mr Sobel believes increasing access to free water will play a key role in the fight to protect the environment from plastic waste in general, and disposable water bottles in particular.

Last November the MP called for measures to ensure takeaway restaurants gave customers access to free water bottle refills.

Commenting on his new proposal to increase the number of public fountains, he said: "It is vital that government, MPs and the council work together to provide a package of measures that will help to tackle the scourge of plastic waste that is destroying our natural environment.

"There should be no reason for people to have to buy overpriced packaged water, and making tap water as available as possible should encourage people to re-fill rather than re-buy.

"I have written to Leeds City Council and look forward to working with them to start a water fountain revolution within Leeds and surrounding towns like Otley and Yeadon."

The Environmental Audit Committee has included both of Mr Sobel’s proposals in its report, Plastic Bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide, which has been produced following a major inquiry into packaging in the UK.

The committee is calling on the Government to:

*Introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic drinks bottles

*Require all public premises that serve food and drink to provide free drinking water

*Increase the number of public water fountains

*Make producers financially responsible for their plastic packaging and to phase in a requirement for 50 per cent of plastic bottle content to be recycled - with a target date of 2023.

Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, MP Mary Creagh, said: "Urgent action is needed to protect our environment from the devastating effects of marine plastic pollution which, if it continues to rise at current rates, will outweigh fish by 2050.

"We need action at individual, council, regional and national levels to turn back the plastic tide.

"It is unacceptable that there is no legal obligation for unlicensed cafes, restaurants and sports centres to provide free drinking water on request.

"The UK has safe, clean tap water and failing to provide it leads to unnecessary use of plastic water bottles which clog up our rivers and seas."