Local Conservative MPs vote to weaken water regulator powers

25 Apr 2024
Victoria Collins

Local Conservative MPs vote to weaken water regulator powers despite sewage crisis

- New law results in the weakening of Ofwat enforcement powers against sewage dumpers

-Local MPs vote in Parliament against advice from environment groups on controversial changes to Ofwat powers 

- Local Lib Dem says vote will leave water regulator with “one hand tied behind their back” in fight against Thames Water.

On 24th April, Conservative MPs, including Bim Afolami (Hitchin & Harpenden), Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) and Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire) have voted in favour of weakening the water regulator’s ability to take enforcement action on water companies. 

MPs voted on the government's new proposals to ensure any regulator imposing a fine or action on a company, must take into account the  impact on economic growth. 

This new Statutory Instrument, known as the “Growth Duty” could allow water companies to escape fines for sewage pollution. 

Environmental groups including the Wildlife and Countryside Link and Surfers Against Sewage warned the changes will diminish regulator powers. The CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link slammed the changes, saying they could lead to weakened enforcement against companies and promote deregulation of environmental laws. 

Conservative MPs voted to downgrade Ofwat’s enforcement powers, despite cross-party opposition in the House of Commons. 

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Harpenden & Berkhamsted, Victoria Collins said:

”It beggars belief to see Conservative MPs simply voting this statutory instrument through like this. 

“It means Ofwat will now be fighting with one hand tied behind their back and will help rogue water firms like Thames Water get off the hook.

“Meanwhile, sewage discharges continue to increase. Locally, the Markyate Sewage Works has been discharging sewage for over 850 hours and sees no signs of stopping.  It all just stinks!

“The way this government lets the water companies rake in massive profits feels like a kick in the teeth to people in Harpenden & Berkhamsted. We are sick of seeing our precious chalk streams and other waterways being destroyed by sewage.  

“Harpenden & Berkhamsted deserves better than these Conservative MPs who actively votes to weaken regulation on water firms. 

“People are crying out for an MP who will actually vote to take tough action on these polluting firms.”

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