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Portsmouth MP urges government to immediately ban bonuses for polluting water bosses as sewage spills rise to record high

By 27 March 2024No Comments

Stephen Morgan MP has today challenged the Government to introduce an immediate ban on bonuses for polluting water bosses, as it is revealed today raw sewage spills into England rivers and seas doubled in 2023 compared to the previous year.

This comes as new Environment Agency data to be released today has found that last year was worst for sewage spills since records began. Sewage was discharged for an eyewatering record 4 million hours across England in 2023.

The number of sewage discharges has skyrocketed by 58%, from over 477,000 sewage spills in 2023, compared to 301,091 in 2022.

The City MP met with the Environment Agency today to discuss the shocking figures and the impact on Portsmouth’s bathing waters, with Southern Water historically being one of the worst offenders in the country for raw sewage dumping.

It follows a string of actions by the Portsmouth MP lobbying the Government to take greater action to tackle the dirty water crisis in our city: raising issues in the Commons, convening a public meeting on the issue, and working closely with Portsmouth Universities School of Biological Sciences and Surfers Against Sewage to hold Southern Water to account.

Mr Morgan has been calling on constituents to pledge their support for plans to clean up the Tory sewage scandal through signing his petition here.

Last October, Labour pledged to give the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses until water bosses stop dumping sewage in Britain’s waterways.

The Tories’ hands-off approach has allowed Britain’s waterways to become an open sewer. Under Labour’s new plans, Ofwat could have blocked six out of nine water bosses’ bonuses last year because of severe levels of illegal pollution.

Commenting, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The shocking figures today have revealed the extent to which our precious bathing waters have been taken for granted by this Government and the water companies they are letting off the hook.

”Despite being responsible for this illegal behaviour, water company bosses have brazenly awarded themselves over £25 million in bonuses and incentives since the last election. 

“Under Labour, this will not be tolerated. We will act immediately to ban the bonuses of all water bosses until treat our bathing waters with the protection they deserve.”

Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, Steve Reed MP said:

”The Conservatives are too weak to get tough with polluting water companies. Instead of imposing Labour’s ban on water bosses’ bonuses, Steve Barclay has weakly chosen to only talk about doing it.

“The evidence is clear. We don’t need the dither and delay of a consultation, we need immediate action.

“That is why Labour will put the water companies under tough special measures. We will strengthen regulation so law-breaking water bosses face criminal charges, and give the regulator new powers to block the payment of bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth.”

Labour has pledged to put failing water companies under tough special measures to force them to clean up their toxic mess and protect people’s health.

This includes:

  • Giving the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses until water bosses have cleaned up their filth. We don’t need the dither and delay of a consultation; we need immediate action.
  • Water bosses who oversee repeated law-breaking will face criminal charges.
  • Ending self-monitoring and forcing all companies to monitor every single water outlet under independent supervision so companies can no longer cover up illegal sewage dumping.
  • Introducing severe and automatic fines that water companies can’t afford to ignore for illegal sewage discharges.