Conservative MP's vote to weaken water regulator powers despite sewage crisis

25 Apr 2024
picture of sewage pipe into a waterway

Conservative MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, Ben Spencer votes to weaken water regulator powers despite sewage crisis

- New law results in the weakening of Ofwat enforcement powers against sewage dumpers

- Local MP votes in Parliament against advice from environment groups on controversial changes to Ofwat powers 

- Local Lib Dem says vote will leave water regulator with “one hand tied behind their back” in fight against Thames Water

Conservative MPs, including Ben Spencer, voted yesterday in favour of weakening the water regulator’s ability to take enforcement action on water companies. 

MPs voted on the government's new proposals to ensure any regulator imposing a fine or action on a company, must take into account the impact on economic growth. 

This new Statutory Instrument, known as the “Growth Duty” could allow water companies to escape fines for sewage pollution. 

Environmental groups including the Wildlife and Countryside Link and Surfers Against Sewage warned the changes will diminish regulator powers. The CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link slammed the changes, saying they could lead to weakened enforcement against companies and promote deregulation of environmental laws. 

Conservative MPs voted to downgrade Ofwat’s enforcement powers, despite cross-party opposition in the House of Commons. 

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Runnymede and Weybridge, Ellen Nicholson said: 

“It was devastating to see Conservative MPs vote to help water firms get off the hook. 

“Ofwat will now be fighting Thames Water with one hand tied behind their back.

“Everyone here is fed up with our waterways being destroyed by sewage, and it is a kick in the teeth to see the local Conservative MP vote this way in Parliament. 

“People tell me they want an MP who will actually vote to take tough action on these polluting firms. This government is letting them rake in massive profits all whilst sewage discharges increase. It all stinks. 

Runnymede and Weybridge deserves better than a Conservative MP who actively votes in favour of weaker regulation on water firms. Local communities will be furious about this vote.”

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