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Comment: Government’s Plan for Water

4 April 2023

Chair's comment

Philip Dunne MP said:

“I welcome this wide-ranging Plan for Water to improve water quality in England’s rivers.

“Water companies must recognise their role in restoring rivers to good health, and any failure to meet environmental targets must be reflected by withholding performance awards and dividends from directors and shareholders respectively.

“The Government’s Plan for Water addresses many of the recommendations in EAC’s Water Quality in Rivers report: tackling illegal sewage spills and damaging microplastic road runoff, seeking to ban plastic-based wet wipes from sale, and working with farmers to reduce agricultural pollution.

“We are also pleased to see that the Government intends to fund catchment action plans which will deliver integrated approaches to the pollution issues blighting many river basins.

“This plan does not deliver a quick fix, nor can decades of under-investment in our drains under ground be out right overnight. But the measures set out, and the investment promised, represent a credible and wide-ranging strategy to tackle the scourges of pollution and underinvestment which have blighted England’s waterways for too long. Sewage discharges into waterways should only occur during truly exceptional weather events: this plan sets out the initial stages for investment in the sewerage network so that unpermitted spills are eliminated.

“Accepting our recommendation to ban polluting plastic wet wipes will help to reduce the excessive use of storm overflows. These single use wipes clog up drains and sewage works. They combine with fat and grease in sewers and congeal into revolting ‘fat bergs’ that cost water companies and billpayers many millions to unblock every year.

“The Committee will continue to focus on the delivery of these measures not only by Ministers but also by all other stakeholders in the water system. Sustained scrutiny and consistent regulation is required to restore England’s rivers to a healthy state”.

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