MP for Hertford and Stortford, Julie Marson, has today backed the next stage of the Government’s plan to tackle sewage pollution by further strengthening legal requirements.
Last August, the Government set out its plan which requires the largest infrastructure programme in water company history to tackle sewage overflows. The 60-page plan prioritises investments in priority sites, including protected habitats and bathing waters.
Since then £1.6 billion in investment has been brought forward to speed up vital water infrastructure projects, cutting thousands of overflow spills each year.
Ministers also reconfirmed that they will be unleashing unlimited penalties so that polluters pay for their impact on the environment, with funds now being reinvested into rivers and water bodies.
Today’s next step will place the target in the Sewage Overflow Reduction Plan on a statutory footing.
Secretary of State Therese Coffey MP said:
“It was a Conservative government that introduced 100 per cent monitoring of storm overflows. We’ve brought forward stronger regulations, tougher enforcement and the largest water infrastructure programme in history – an expected £56 billion investment – and we will make fines unlimited so that the polluter always pays.”
The Environment Secretary has written to water companies requiring a plan on every overflow on her desk by the end of June. This builds on work to introduce mandatory monitoring, which is up from just 7% in 2010 to 100% by the end of this year.
Thanks to this monitoring, regulators are undertaking the largest investigation into water companies in their history related to illegal sewage dumping, building on record fines of £141m secured since 2015.
Mrs Marson also commented:
“People in Hertford and Stortford are quite rightly disgusted by the thought of sewage in our rivers, and so am I.
“I have been clear both Thames and Affinity Water must clean up their acts now. I will urge ministers to use the full force of the law if they do not, including unlimited penalties.
“Our area is home to some of the country’s oldest and most beautiful waterways - under this new legislation, they will be protected for years to come.”