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Friday, 23 August 2013

£200K No Deterrent for Polluting Thanet's Beaches

So Southern Water has been fined £200,000 for polluting Thanet’s beaches in 2011. Investigations are still on-going into the pollution incident in 2012 when all of Thanet’s beaches were closed for over a week. There might be another prosecution and fine for this spillage as well.

But what does this matter to Southern Water, Not much I venture. Last year Southern Water made £331million profits. That’s almost £1million per day! So a fine of £200,000 is hardly a deterrent.
Out of the 23 water companies operating in England and Wales, OFWAT, the water industry regulator, has rated Southern Water the worst company for serious pollution incidents. Southern Water is also the worst water company in the country for discharging  more sewage into our waterways and sea than is allowed for in their permits with the Environment Agency.
Last year when I was part of the Council Scrutiny Investigation into Southern Water I was contacted by several company employees who told me all about new staff rostering  and call out arrangements and  large cuts in  wages and pensions which had wreaked havoc with routine maintenance and emergency cover and destroyed the  morale of staff working in a dirty and often dangerous job 24/7.  They also told me about how some spillage and pollution incidents were covered up and not reported by bosses. In fact one of the reasons for imposing the £200,000 on Southern Water appears to have been its reluctance to fes-up  when it dumped raw sewage in the sea.
Well I don’t know about you, but I think Southern Water has a responsibility to spend a big wedge of its £331 million super-profits on investing in new infra-structure and decent conditions for its staff, in order to stop pollution incidents such as those in Thanet which have damaged the reputation of our beaches and caused serious economic loss to local business. This will become even more important when the new European Bathing Water Quality directives are introduced in 2015 which have even tougher standards than now.

The Green Party believes that our water services are so important to the health of the nation that they should not be managed by private companies who are motivated by profit, but should be brought back under public ownership.

4 comments:

  1. Laura Sandys MP Welcomes Treasury Minister to Thanet as £29 million Coastal Communities Fund Extension Announced



    Friday, 23 August, 2013

    Laura Sandys welcomed the Financial Secretary, The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, to Thanet today as the Treasury announced an extension to the Coastal Communities Fund with the amount on offer increasing to £29 million.

    Laura said: “I was thrilled to welcome the Minister to Thanet. The Coastal Communities Fund -aimed at assisting seaside towns in achieving their economic potential- was of course launched in Thanet so I am particularly delighted that Greg was here today to turn the soil at the Marlowe Innovation Centre for a new Coastal Communities Fund financed project set to create 70 jobs in Thanet on completion next year.

    “I am also delighted that there will be an increase to next year’s available funding as a direct result of the success of our windfarm industry.

    “This week a report was published by the Office for National Statistics looking at the economies of large coastal towns in 2007 and 2010. The picture painted in this study is sadly a very clear reflection of the neglect our seaside towns suffered under the last Government.

    “The Coastal Communities Fund however is a very clear commitment from this Government to our seaside towns. Coastal areas around the country are now getting a lot more attention and I am always ensuring that Thanet is put at the very front of the queue in Westminster. In addition to the Coastal Communities Fund, we have been particularly fortunate in securing and benefiting from £35 million of regional growth funding. All of this is very good news indeed for residents in Thanet.

    “All the events around Thanet this weekend alone are testament to the energy, vibrancy and aspiration of our local residents. With some financial support from central government, things are very much looking up!

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  2. Why should a basic necessity over cost the bill payer by such a huge amount? This is a ridiculous situation for which we rely on OFWAT to protect us. Also when in the marine environment "over the side is over" shouldn't they get fined twice.

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  3. Where is the money to come from to take all these things like water and railways back into public ownership, Mr Green Party local rep? Maybe you advocate just seizing them like some third world states have done so that they never work properly again.

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  4. The fine is hopeless because, however large the fine is, they will just pass the cost on to the customer. The problem, as I see it, is that these companies aren't really competitive with one another. The regulator is just there to try to regulate their excesses because there is no effective competition. However, if the regulator can do no more than impose fines he is impotent. We need to renationalise the water companies and fire directors who allow cruddy designs which overspill onto the beaches.

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