13 December 2022
Philip Dunne secures further Government progress on water company provisions in Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Philip Dunne welcomes Government amendments passed yesterday to require tougher nutrient treatment upgrades to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus discharges at water treatment facilities in sensitive catchments; secures assurances that water companies can be recipients of funds from the infrastructure levy if local authorities deem it appropriate; and calls for water companies to become statutory consultees on significant developments.

Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con)

Madam Deputy Speaker, I apologise for not arriving for the beginning of my right hon. and learned Friend’s remarks. On the third group of amendments, on nutrient neutrality, may I applaud the Government for the work they are doing in trying to ensure that water companies take full responsibility for their discharges into our waterways? This is an extremely important and powerful set of amendments, and I applaud her for that. In that context, and in the context of both community land auctions and the infrastructure levy, is it the case that water companies can be in receipt of both those sources of funding in the event that local authorities deem it an appropriate use either of the infrastructure levy or funds arising out of community land auctions? At present, they do not appear to be. Can they become statutory consultees on significant developments, which at present they are not?

The Minister of State, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Lucy Frazer)

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s intervention, because I know he has done significant work on this issue. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced future funding from fines handed out to polluting water companies being invested in schemes for the benefit of our natural environment. I know he did a lot of work on that issue.

On the infrastructure levy, water and waste water networks are covered by the broad definition of infrastructure, so the answer to my right hon. Friend’s question on that issue is yes. On statutory consultees, the Secretary of State can make changes to the list of statutory consultees through secondary legislation, and we will consult on whether to make water companies statutory consultees, and if so, how best to do that.