I know that sewage pollution is a serious issue, and I am glad that this Government is taking action to clean up Britain’s waterways.
The Environment Bill has recently passed through Parliament with the purpose of eliminating environmental harm from storm overflows through the Storm Overflows Taskforce, which will gather key stakeholders from the water industry to guarantee sustainable progress in reducing sewage pollution.
Building on this landmark legislation, the Environment Secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, has taken unprecedented steps to tackle sewage, imposing tough new penalties on water companies who breach rules by dumping sewage into rivers and seas. The new measures will increase fines from an upper limit of £250,000 per incident to £250 million, introducing a powerful deterrent against illegal dumping.
The Government has opted for an ambitious but realistic plan of action that makes concrete progress to the cleaner, safer and healthier environment that we all want. The Environment Bill imposes a legal requirement on the Government to present a clear strategy to Parliament to eliminate sewerage discharge from storm overflows. For the first time ever, this will ensure Ofwat, the water industry’s regulator, is obliged to require water companies to take meaningful steps to “significantly reduce storm overflows”.
I hear the constituents’ concerns about sewerage pollution and I share their very defensible anxieties. I am personally a member of a group of Solent MPs pressing Southern Water, whose past conduct has been unacceptable, on this issue. I voted for a sustainable solution to the problem that accepts the world as it is but will ensure our waterways and beaches are cleaned up.