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Comment: EA environmental performance report on water and sewerage companies

14 July 2022

Chair's comment

Reacting to the Environment Agency’s ‘Water and sewerage companies in England: environmental performance report 2021’, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“I am sorry to say that these figures are shocking but not surprising: even as public outrage at these disgusting practices grew last year, the number of incidents was increasing. The scale of these incidents is simply unacceptable, as our Committee said in its report on this earlier in the year. The provisions included in the Environment Act are a good step forward, and the Government's Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat sends an important signal to the industry about its priorities. But we must see rapid action by all water companies to stay within the terms of their permits and to slash the volume of effluent they discharge into waterways.

The EA’s calls for heftier fines and prison sentences ought to  concentrate minds within water company boardrooms, and it is encouraging to see firmer action from the EA in enforcing permit breaches. We cannot carry on with the amount of unpermitted sewage discharges being overseen by water companies: our environment and ecosystems are being severely damaged and the Chief Medical Officer has warned that it is a serious public health issue.”

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