Sewage: Rivers

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd November 2021.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what guidance he has issued to Ofwat on accelerating the ending of routine discharge of raw sewage into English rivers by water companies.

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

Earlier this year the Government consulted on a set of strategic priorities for Ofwat, the independent economic regulator for the water industry. The draft strategic policy statement (SPS) sets out the direction from the Government that water companies must take steps to "significantly reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows". This is the first time any government has set out this expectation for water companies to prioritise their reliance on storm overflows to discharge sewage. The SPS strongly influences investment decisions and is one of the Government's key tools in driving action from water companies. The Government expects to publish the final SPS in early 2022.

Government has also announced that it will put the direction set out in the SPS on a statutory footing with a new duty on water companies to progressively reduce impacts of sewage discharges.

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