Labour to automatically fine polluting water companies

Labour plans to automatically fine water companies every time they pollute rives and seas if it wins the next general election.

As reported by the Telegraph, companies that distribute but continuously engage in water pollution may face more harsher penalties compared to those that do not provide shareholder rewards, under the new proposals.

The news follows a recent sewage fiasco, that included Thames Water fined over £3 million after thousands of fish killed in sewage leak.

If automatic fines were implemented, water utility companies would have incurred fines a staggering 301,000 times in the previous year alone — equivalent to the number of officially recorded water spills by the Environment Agency.

In contrast, only four water companies were subject to prosecution for violating overflow permits between 2018 and 2022 by the current regulatory body, which is responsible for determining when fines should be imposed.


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The Daily Telegraph saw that the proposal for automated fines was incorporated in the Labour party’s National Policy Forum document, which received approval last month.

Other measures include striking off water company directors who continually breach and ignore their responsibilities and introducing mandatory monitoring of sewage outlets.

Labour shadow environment security Jim McMahon told The Telegraph that Labour win the next election it will “bring an end to the Tory sewage scandal by delivering mandatory monitoring on all sewage outlets, introducing automatic fines for discharges paid for by eroding dividends, setting ambitious targets for stopping systematic sewage dumping and ensuring that water bosses are legally held to account for negligence.”

A Conservative Party source said however that Labour’s plan would “simply let water companies off the hook.”

“A basic policy of automatic fines would lead to the bare minimum when it comes to punishment,” they added. “Meanwhile, the [current] government is speeding up prosecutions and we are making sure that the polluter always pays.”

Nature and the environmentNewsPolicy

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