According to the minister, sewage fines for water companies will be "substantial."

sewer pipe near a river

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow has stated that violating water companies will result in "substantial penalties," with the government still considering fines of up to £250 million.

It follows news in The Times that the government was reconsidering plans to raise the maximum fines for disposing of sewage in rivers and seas to £250 million.

Water companies "must act urgently," according to Ms. Pow, to boost productivity.

But Labour criticized the government for making "the same old promises" without following through.

The spring will see the start of a consultation on raising the cap on civil penalties for water companies.

Ranil Jayawardena, the former Environment Secretary, proposed raising the maximum fine from £250,000 to £250 million in October.

Therese Coffey, his successor, reportedly thinks such an increase is excessive, according to a report in The Times.

All options, including £250 million in fines, are still on the table, according to the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Due to incidents of untreated sewage being dumped into rivers and oceans, water companies have come under increasing scrutiny.

"Where water and sewage companies are found to be breaking the law, there will be substantial penalties," Ms. Pow assured MPs in response to an urgent question about the performance of businesses in the Commons. We'll be holding a consultation on whether we'll implement the proposed £250 million cap in the near future. ".

The environment minister referred to the situation as "completely unacceptable," adding that "the British people expect better, and this government does, too. ".

The government, according to Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary for Labour, has not taken any action against businesses.

We're back where we started with the same old justifications and the same old promises of action, he said.

"The water companies are aware that they can bankroll their success because the government won't take any action. ".

Fines, according to Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, may not be sufficient to compel companies to perform better.

The former minister said, "Southern Water had a record £90m levied a few years ago — that wasn't enough to convey the message.

The current performance indicates that so far it hasn't worked, so instead of levying fines, could we make sure that money is collected to force investment in the network? ".

Currently, the Environment Agency can pursue both criminal and civil lawsuits if water companies violate the law or cause environmental damage.

Civil sanctions can be imposed more quickly and without a drawn-out court process, whereas fines handed out in criminal cases are not limited.

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