Water firm bosses have to be jailed for critical air pollution, the Environment Agency (EA) has stated, because it revealed English water companies have overseen surprising ranges of air pollution within the final 12 months.
The company stated water companies’ efficiency on air pollution had declined to the worst seen in years. It is asking for chief executives and board members to be jailed in the event that they oversee critical, repeated air pollution as a result of they appeared undeterred by enforcement motion and courtroom fines for breaching environmental legal guidelines.
Emma Howard Boyd, the chair of the EA, stated: “Fines currently handed down by the courts often amount to less than a chief executive’s salary … Investors should no longer see England’s water monopolies as a one-way bet.”
The environmental efficiency evaluation launched on Thursday by the EA offers star scores for the businesses. Southern Water and South West Water got a one-star ranking – which implies a poor efficiency – whereas 4 firms: Anglian, Thames, Wessex and Yorkshire, have been rated solely two stars – that means they require vital enchancment.
Seven water firms oversaw a rise in critical incidents in contrast with 2020, with 62 critical incidents of air pollution for 2021 – the best since 2013.
There have been eight of probably the most critical category-one incidents, in contrast with three in 2020.
The report stated: “The sector’s performance on pollution was shocking, much worse than previous years … Company directors let this occur and it is simply unacceptable. Over the years the public have seen water company executives and investors rewarded handsomely while the environment pays the price. The water companies are behaving like this for a simple reason: because they can. We intend to make it too painful for them to continue as they are.”
Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water and United Utilities carried out extra positively and maintained four-star scores.
But the EA stated there had been no general enchancment for a number of years in complete incident numbers or compliance with circumstances for discharging handled wastewater.
Growing public outrage over the dimensions of sewage releases into rivers and coastal waters has compelled the agenda to turn into a part of mainstream political debate. Citizen scientists and communities throughout the nation are offering proof of the air pollution of waterways by the companies. Howard Boyd stated: “It’s appalling that water companies’ performance on pollution has hit a new low.
“Water quality won’t improve until water companies get a grip on their operational performance. For years people have seen executives and investors handsomely rewarded while the environment pays the price.
“Company directors let this happen. We plan to make it too painful for them to continue like this. “
The EA wants to company directors to be struck off after overseeing illegal environmental damage.
The EA and Ofwat are carrying out a large investigation into the dumping of raw sewage into waterways by the firms, after shocking failures by the majority of companies. The inquiry started after the water firms admitted they may have been illegally discharging sewage into rivers and seas for years.
Water companies are allowed to self-report breaches of permits that allow them to release raw sewage in exceptional circumstances via storm overflows. Evidence from Prof Peter Hammond, that water firms were responsible for 10 times more sewage dumping than they were disclosing, which was provided to MPs, helped to force the agencies to toughen their stance against the firms.
The EA report on Thursday said water companies were not reporting the total number of pollution incidents. Self-reporting remained at 77%, which was below target. Thames Water performed significantly below target with only 65% of incidents self-reported.
Southern Water and South West Water performed significantly below target for the way they complied with permits which allow them to occasionally release raw sewage from their treatment works.
Hugo Tagholm of charity Surfers Against Sewage said: “The stench of environmental vandalism and rampant profiteering now hangs permanently over the water industry. The industry has catastrophically failed and urgent legislative and legal action must be taken to prevent a few industry fat cats from robbing the nation of clean rivers and coastlines, thriving with life.”