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  • by Karma Loveday

Defra says £250m pollution fines are still on the table

Following reports the government might row back on the idea of increasing the maximum penalty that can be levied on water companies for serious pollutions to £250m, ministers have issued reassurance that these tougher penalties remain in play as a possibility.

Alongside the consultation on making it quicker and easier for penalties to be issued, Defra said it will consult on the limit for fines in spring.

In the Lords, Defra minister, Lord Benyon, faced a question in the name of the Duke of Wellington: “To ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to reconsider their proposal to increase to £250m the maximum penalty for serious pollution incidents by water companies; and what assessment they have made of the reported remarks by the chair of the Environment Agency describing the proposal as ‘crazy’.”

Lord Benyon said: “All options are on the table, including a £250m cap.”

The ensuing Lords’ debate covered topics including whether criminal sanctions and stricter bonus regulation for water company leaders as individuals would be a better choice than corporate fines, given the sector needs substantial future investment – not least to fund the £56bn Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan.


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