Sewage: Waste Disposal

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 19 September 2023.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether she is taking steps to ensure that action is taken by the Environment Agency against water companies when illegal sewage discharges occur.

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

The Government is clear that the volume of sewage being discharged into our waters is unacceptable. That is why we are tackling every source of pollution. Our Plan for Water sets out increased investment, tougher enforcement and tighter regulation.

If illegal sewage discharges occur, the Environment Agency (EA) will not hesitate to use all options for robust enforcement action. This can include criminal prosecution by the EA for which there can be unlimited fines.

We have boosted funding for the Environment Agency with £2.2 million per year specifically for water company enforcement activity. The Environment Agency is improving how the sector is regulated including expanding the number of officers focused on regulation, increasing compliance checks, and recruiting more data specialists able to translate storm overflows monitoring data into stronger regulatory intelligence.

Since 2015, the Environment Agency has concluded 59 prosecutions against water and sewerage companies, securing fines of over £150m.

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