top of page
  • by Karma Loveday

Environmental Audit Committee chair kicks off oral evidence in inquiry into Ofwat

The House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee kicked off its inquiry into the work of Ofwat last week, with oral evidence from Environmental Audit Committee chair Philip Dunne MP.

Regarding the automatic right to connect to sewer and new developments’ contribution to putting pressure on wastewater capacity, Dunne said Defra ministers, George Eustice and Rebecca Pow, were “absolutely appraised” of the situation and that he had “no doubt at all about their commitment” to addressing the issue.

However, regarding the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Dunne said the issue was “not at the forefront of his [secretary of state’s] mind” and that he suspected the need for 300,000 homes a year might be a “higher priority” than investment in underground assets. In light of that, Dunne said he intended to raise amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, currently going through the House.

Among his other comments, Dunne said powers to intervene on water executive bonuses was “relevant’ to the role of economic regulator and that while a five yearly policy steer from Defra was appropriate for water, he would like to see more frequent interventions if needed, with a precedent set by Green Recovery investment.

Dunne added that storm overflow reduction targets had to be grounded in reality and that while he had received some “flack” from campaign groups about the Defra targets, he was cognisant of cost of living issues. He argued the matter must be given “higher priority, which does come at some cost” but that costs could be kept down as they have been with the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Expert witnesses, managing director of Water Policy International, Professor Ian Barker, and director at Frontier Economics Annabelle Ong, also gave evidence at the first session.

The next session will be held 28 June, featuring evidence from environmental campaigners.


bottom of page