Major polluters in the UK, such as water and power companies that pollute UK rivers and seas or spill waste, face unlimited fines and tougher penalties. The British government plans to scrap the current £250,000 (more than €290,000) limit for environmental fines. The new laws will also place a wide range of violations within the scope of environmental permitting regulations.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey announced plans in April to allow unlimited fines for companies for polluting water. This policy is now being extended to other companies, from energy producers to waste processors.
The legislation follows advice from the Department for the Environment, which has investigated pollution of UK rivers and seas from sewage and untreated sewage. With the Water Plan, the government wants to strengthen regulations and prevent companies from accepting fines instead of paying the exorbitant costs of treating wastewater.
The limit has been removed
“Polluters always pay. We will remove the cap on civil penalties and significantly expand them to address a much broader range of violations,” Coffey said in a statement. According to the minister, the new powers will go into effect “in due course.”
The tougher rules follow a long-running scandal involving privatized water companies that dumped raw sewage into British rivers and seas. Environmentalists have also pointed to the harmful effects of the discharges on the country’s fragile ecosystems and wildlife. British water companies such as Thames Water are also accused of borrowing too much money to pay high dividends and bonuses to managers rather than investing more in the often outdated infrastructure.
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