Ministers to use water company fines for environmental change and not fund the Treasury

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 30 File photo dated 07/10/09 of an Environment Agency worker treating the River Trent, as ministers plan to use money from fines handed out by water companies for polluting rivers and seas to improve the natural environment instead of giving the money to the treasury. PA photo. Issue date: Wednesday November 30, 2022 Funds will be earmarked for investment in water quality improvement initiatives, according to government proposals, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. See PA Story POLITICS Pollution. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Ministers plan to use money from fines water companies have received for polluting rivers and seas to improve the natural environment (Image: PA)

According to new government plans, cash raised by the water treatment companies will be pumped back into the environment instead of funding ministers.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the funds will be earmarked to reinvest in water quality improvement initiatives.

According to Defra, this could include creating wetlands, replanting river banks and reconnecting meanders to main rivers.

Currently, funds from fines are returned to the Treasury.

Public outrage at the amount of raw or partially treated sewage being pumped into Britain’s rivers and coastal waters has grown in recent months.

Water companies have been criticized for not investing money back into the UK’s aging water infrastructure, leading to mounting pressure on ministers to intervene.

untreated water ends up in the sea

Water companies have been accused of dumping sewage into the sea

no toxic mud sign on the beach

Many people have encountered sewage in the sea while visiting the beach (Image: Getty)

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The government came under fire in October after Environment Secretary Therese Coffey admitted it would miss the deadline to publish landmark legally binding targets to clean up Britain’s waters.

Ms Coffey said she was “disappointed” at the delay in drawing up the targets – which are obligations under environmental law after Brexit – but was “working at pace to build on the work of my predecessors”.

Defra said more details on his plans to redistribute money from fines imposed on water companies would follow next year.

Water Secretary Rebecca Pow said: “Fines from water companies hit record levels last year and implementation of these plans will significantly increase funds used to restore, protect and enhance our natural environment.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “These fines hold rule-breaking companies to account and represent record investments in our waterways.

“It adds to our call for water companies to invest in the natural environment – ​​raising the largest investment ever in environmental infrastructure of £56 billion over 25 years.”

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Justin Scacco

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