12 July 2023
'Polluter pays': unlimited fines for pollution events

Reacting to the Government’s announcement today that new laws will end the cap on civil penalties for environmental offences, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

 “The EAC has been calling for some time for toughening sanctions and ensuring the polluter pay principle is enforced, and that where fines are imposed they should be used to help improve water quality in the catchment affected. Those responsible for polluting England’s precious waterways must be held to account. Pollution in rivers and seas devastate wildlife and can severely impact public health to recreational users.

 “So I am pleased the Government is upping the ante today, both by enabling unlimited fines for the most egregious pollution events, and ensuring that the proceeds of these fines are ring-fenced into Water Restoration Funds which will be invested to help improve water quality.

 “While this announcement comes at a time when the finances of numerous water companies is under the spotlight, we received confirmation today from Ofwat that households bills cannot be affected from fines imposed on water companies.

 “I hope today’s announcement further incentivises water and sewerage companies to get their houses in order, invest in infrastructure to upgrade our Victorian era system and help cut sewage discharges into our waterways.”