'Polluting' water firms will 'pay' if Labour get in, says shadow environment secretary

28 May 2024, 17:41

Steve Reed has said polluters will pay for the sewage crisis
Steve Reed has said polluters will pay for the sewage crisis. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Emma Soteriou

'Polluting' water firms will 'pay' if Labour get in, shadow environment secretary Steve Reed has said.

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Speaking to LBC, Steve Reed suggested that Labour would push back against huge increases to water bills when in government.

He said "polluters" would pay over the public.

"If Labour wins the election, then cleaning up the waterways is going to be one of the main priorities," Mr Reed said.

"What we will do is put the water companies under tough special measures and we’ll make water bosses who are overseeing record levels of illegal sewage dumping face the full force of the law."

He added: "We’ll give the regulator the power they need to ban the water companies paying their bosses multi-million pound bonuses while they’re overseeing such catastrophic failure."

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Steve Reed says the polluters will pay to clean up UK waterways

He continued: "The reason water companies have got away with this is because the Conservative government deliberately and knowingly weakened the rules that govern the protection of our water.

"They allowed the water companies to borrow billions of pounds and then pay it out to their shareholders as dividends and to their bosses as bonuses rather than investing that money in fixing the broken sewage pipes.

"The reason Labour is going to crack down on regulation is because that’s how we can make sure there are consequences for water companies and water bosses who choose to reward themselves rather than invest in fixing the sewage system."

Mr Reed added: "Our guiding principle will be that the polluter and not the public will pay."

The Lib Dems have also shared their plans to tackle the sewage crisis.

Party leader Sir Ed Davey said local environmental experts should be represented on water companies' boards to ensure sewage spills are taken seriously, as he accused Conservative ministers of "sitting on their hands".

Under the Lib Dems' plans, local environment experts within the community would sit on utility firms' boards as non-executive directors to "improve public accountability and transparency".

The experts would also be expected to hold community meetings to report back on action being taken.

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