The government has unveiled plans to use money from water company fines for environmental improvements around the UK.
Currently, the money accrued from fines for polluting rivers and seas are returned to the Treasury. However, these will now be ringfenced for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
It will then be re-invested in water quality improvement projects, such as creating wetlands, reconnecting meanders to the main channel of rivers, and re-vegetating riverbanks.
Water minister Rebecca Pow said: “The volume of sewage being discharged into our waters is unacceptable, and can cause significant harm to our wildlife and sensitive habitats.”
The Environment Agency has issued 56 prosecutions against water and sewerage companies since 2015, with fines amounting to more than £141 million over the last seven years.
Ms Pow said the new plans will “significantly increase funding” to protect the environment, in addition to the £56 billion water companies will have to pay to improve water infrastructure.
Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt added this will mean “record investment in our waterways”.
The government has also committed to investing £2.2 million per year for water company enforcement activity to make sure water pollution is kept to a minimum.
This comes after Anglian Water was fined £563,609.21 after millions of litres of sewage were leaked into a river following a failure at a treatment plant. This resulted in the loss of invertebrate and fish for 3km.
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