Sewage Discharges

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at on 19 October 2023.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon

What assessment she has made of the adequacy of the steps taken by her Department to prevent sewage discharges.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We have gone further and faster than any Government in history to drive down sewage discharges. Last month we published our £60 billion plan, which sets stringent targets to reduce sewage discharges. Those targets will prioritise action at target sites. What did Labour do? It did nothing when it was in power.

Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon

Water companies need stable finances to make improvements. In December 2022, Ofwat outlined concerns about the financial resilience of several water companies. What has the Minister done to mitigate the risks, and what will she be doing in future?

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Ofwat report on sewage discharges, published in September, was extremely disappointing. I have written to all the water companies that were highlighted as lagging, and I have written to all the CEOs to say that I want to meet them in person. I have also written to the CEO and chair of Ofwat to ask how they will hold these water companies to account.

Photo of Cherilyn Mackrory Cherilyn Mackrory Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

This Government introduced monitoring, so we now know the state of the problem. The water companies are now engaging and Ofwat has powers to put financial pressure on them. Given that only 4% of sewage overflows in Scotland are monitored, does this not show that we are progressing it in the right way and that the nationalisation of water companies is not the way to go?