Government: ‘More environmental action needed from water industry’

A new SPS will be laid before Parliament, calling for Ofwat and water companies to become more sustainable

Big Zero Report 2022

The government has announced that regulator Ofwat must do more to ensure England’s water industry must do more to protect the environment, with new targets for the next five years.

A Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) is set to be discussed in Parliament today, laying out the expectations and standards the government believe Ofwat and water companies should be adhering to.

Ofwat is responsible for setting out how water companies should invest in five-year cycles, with a new direction now being set by the government.

Companies will now be required to submit reports on operations of storm overflows, with the Environment Agency to monitor 100% of these by 2023.

Individual advice plans will be given to farmers to reduce pollution from agriculture and there will be an increased crack down on unauthorised spills at sewage treatment works, which already led to more than £100 million in fines last year.

The SPS will come into effect 40 days after it has been laid in front of Parliament without objection.

Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister, said: “Water quality is an absolute priority. We are the first government to set a clear expectation that Ofwat should prioritise action by water companies to protect the environment and deliver the improvements that we all want to see.

“I have been very clear of my expectations of water companies and where they do not step up we will take robust action.

“The priorities that we are setting out today build on the work that we have already undertaken to reduce harm from storm overflows, improve monitoring and reporting of pollution incidents making this more transparent, to tackle run-off from agriculture and protect the health of our rivers and seas.”

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