Labour would put water industry under special measures to ‘clean up toxic mess’

The water industry will be put “under special measures” and forced to “clean up their toxic mess” if Labour wins the next general election, the shadow environment secretary has said.

In his keynote speech on the main stage of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Steve Reed outlined plans to end “the highest level of illegal sewage discharges in history”.

He said Labour would give the economic regulator of the water sector Ofwat the powers to ban the payment of bonuses to water bosses who are found to pump significant levels of raw sewage into rivers, lakes and seas.

Water bosses who fail to meet high environmental standards on sewage pollution will also be met with significant sanctions under Labour.

Mr Reed said: “This is going on right across the country: the highest level of illegal sewage discharges in history.

“And why? Because the Tories have hobbled the Environment Agency. They slashed monitoring, enforcement and prosecutions, trashing bio-diversity, wrecking tourism, putting our kids’ health at risk.”

“We will force water companies to monitor every single water outlet, bring in severe and instant fines for every illegal sewage dump and use the money to pay for an enforcement regime the water bosses can no longer ignore.

“Right now, water bosses are pocketing millions of pounds in bonuses while trashing our environment, and leaving consumers to pick up the bill. Not with a Labour government.

“Today I pledge that we will strengthen Ofwat’s powers to ban the payment of bonuses to water bosses until they’ve cleared up their filth. And we will go even further, under a Labour government, rogue water bosses who break the law in an extreme and persistent way will face personal criminal liability for their crimes.

“They will face the full force of the law if they keep breaking the law.

“With Labour, the polluter – not the public – will pay.”

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