The government’s bill does not only concern water treatment companies but also other potentially polluting sectors of activity such as waste management and incinerators.
Unlimited fines for polluters: London announced on Wednesday its intention to remove the ceiling on administrative penalties, now set at 250,000 pounds (294,000 euros), at a time when water companies are singled out for spills wastewater into the environment.
“Polluters still have to pay. We are removing the cap on administrative penalties and significantly expanding their scope to target a much wider range of offences,” Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said in a statement.
The British Environmental Agency and Natural England, two public bodies, will be able to act without going through “long and costly criminal proceedings, even if the most serious cases” will always be brought before the courts, assures the government in this press release.
The government bill does not only concern water treatment companies but also other potentially polluting sectors of activity such as waste management or incinerators, specifies the executive.
But the water sector has been under fire for several years for the dumping of large quantities of wastewater into rivers and the sea, due in particular to a lack of investment in the water network. sewer which dates from the Victorian era (late 19th century).\
Improving infrastructure will cost billions of pounds, as companies in the UK sector have racked up more than £60 billion in debt since their 1989 privatization under Margaret Thatcher.
Struggling London-area water supplier Thames Water was fined 3.3 million pounds (3.9 million euros) last week for polluting waterways and resulted in the death of over 1,000 fish.
Burdened with debt, this company whose financial situation worries even the British government, announced Monday a new financing of 750 million pounds from its shareholders by 2025.
This is less than the billion pounds it was seeking, and the company said it foresees additional needs of around £2.5 billion for the period 2025-2030.
The British government said it was ready, at the end of June, for any scenario, in the face of concerns about the financial health of the largest water company in the United Kingdom, serving 15 million customers in London and in the Thames Valley.
According to the press, the government is working in particular on an emergency plan which would allow it, if necessary, to regain control of Thames Water via a “special administration” regime.
The executive had however assured that “the sector as a whole is financially resilient” and that the water supply “is protected”.
This article is originally published on dhnet.be