Labour urges government to immediately ban bonuses for polluting water bosses as sewage spills rise to record high

News / Wed 27th Mar 2024 at 03:35pm

LABOUR’S Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed has today asked the Government “what are you waiting for” and challenged them to introduce an immediate ban on bonuses for polluting water bosses. 

This comes as new Environment Agency data to be released today has found that last year was worst for sewage spills in England since records began. Sewage was discharged for an eyewatering record 31,623 of hours by Anglian Water in 2023.

The number of sewage discharges has skyrocketed by 96.6% from 273,163 sewage spills in 2023, compared to 16,082 in 2022. 

After 14 years of Tory failure, stinking, toxic sewage is left destroying our countryside, trashing nature, damaging tourism, and putting kids’ health at risk. The latest figures show the number of bathing waters in England receiving a classification of “poor” were at their highest since 2015.

Despite being responsible for this illegal behaviour, water company bosses have brazenly awarded themselves over £25 million in bonuses and incentives since the last election.

Last October, the Labour Party pledged to give the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses until water bosses stop dumping sewage in Britain’s waterways.

The Conservatives were shamed into backing Labour’s idea to ban bonuses – but instead of imposing an immediate ban on bonuses, they merely launched a consultation to talk about doing it.     

The Tories’ hands-off approach has allowed Britain’s waterways to become an open sewer. Under Labour’s new plans, Ofwat could have blocked six out of nine water bosses’ bonuses last year because of severe levels of illegal pollution.

Labour has pledged to put failing water companies under tough special measures to force them to clean up their toxic mess and protect people’s health.

This includes: 

  • Giving the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth. We don’t need the dither and delay of a consultation; we need immediate action. 
  • Water bosses who oversee repeated law-breaking will face criminal charges.
  • Ending self-monitoring and forcing all companies to monitor every single water outlet under independent supervision so companies can no longer cover up illegal sewage dumping. 
  • Introducing severe and automatic fines that water companies can’t afford to ignore for illegal sewage discharges.

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed MP, said:

“The Conservatives’ are too weak to get tough on Anglian Water.”

“Instead of imposing Labour’s ban on water bosses’ bonuses, Steve Barclay has weakly chosen to only talk about doing it. 

“The evidence is clear. We don’t need the dither and delay of a consultation, we need immediate action. 

“That is why Labour will put the water companies under tough special measures. We will strengthen regulation so law-breaking water bosses face criminal charges, and give the regulator new powers to block the payment of bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth.”

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3 Comments for Labour urges government to immediately ban bonuses for polluting water bosses as sewage spills rise to record high:

peter henegan
2024-03-27 16:40:11

The much maligned Jeremy Corbyn wanted to nationalise the water companies. At the time it didn't seem to me to be a priority but given how much crap, literally, is going into rivers I think I was wrong.

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-27 19:29:15

They pass the buck back wards and forwards, so often it's becomes there escape goat.. and so it goes on, and on, why has this not been stopped I ask my self, because its cheaper to dump then to treat. This government will take us back to medieval times that's for shore. Absolutely disgusting that this hasn't been stopped, and all the while the fat cats get richer.

2024-03-28 11:04:48

They're not going to change until the fines for dumping sewage outweigh the savings from not treating it. At the moment it makes good business sense to dump sewage and pay the fines - increases profits. We need much stronger fines and a regulator with teeth rather than one that allows these firms to increase our bills to pay for investment they are duty bound to provide, whilst also paying out huge sums to their shareholders. Or, nationalise the lot. I'm not for blanket nationalisation of industry but the water and sewerage firms have no place in a profit driven private sector, especially if they're not minded to play by the rules.

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