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Sewage Discharges

Volume 738: debated on Thursday 19 October 2023

9. What assessment she has made of the adequacy of the steps taken by her Department to prevent sewage discharges. (906493)

We have gone further and faster than any Government in history to drive down sewage discharges. Last month we published our £60 billion plan, which sets stringent targets to reduce sewage discharges. Those targets will prioritise action at target sites. What did Labour do? It did nothing when it was in power.

Water companies need stable finances to make improvements. In December 2022, Ofwat outlined concerns about the financial resilience of several water companies. What has the Minister done to mitigate the risks, and what will she be doing in future?

The Ofwat report on sewage discharges, published in September, was extremely disappointing. I have written to all the water companies that were highlighted as lagging, and I have written to all the CEOs to say that I want to meet them in person. I have also written to the CEO and chair of Ofwat to ask how they will hold these water companies to account.

This Government introduced monitoring, so we now know the state of the problem. The water companies are now engaging and Ofwat has powers to put financial pressure on them. Given that only 4% of sewage overflows in Scotland are monitored, does this not show that we are progressing it in the right way and that the nationalisation of water companies is not the way to go?