The House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee will continue its inquiry on the work of Ofwat, the UK’s water regulator, by taking evidence from Environment Agency CEO Sir James Bevan and Chair, Alan Lovell, from 10.30am on Tuesday 11 October.
The Committee will be questioning the Environment Agency on water companies’ environmental performance, particularly in relation to sewage discharges, and whether the regulators are monitoring the situation sufficiently.
The Committee will also discuss:
- whether fines and penalties are strong enough to deter water pollution
- whether regulators have enough resources to hold water companies to account
- how the Environment Agency works with Ofwat.
Possible questions include:
- How has the current situation with regard to sewage discharges been allowed to develop? Is there a need to tighten the permits that allow the use of storm overflows?
- Do regulators have adequate resources to monitor and enforce water quality standards? Have cuts to the Environment Agency’s grant and a subsequent reliance on industry self-monitoring contributed to poor environmental performance?
- Why has the Environment Agency called for chief executives and board members of companies responsible for serious and deliberate pollution incidents to be given prison sentences? To what extent is this currently possible and could existing powers have been used more forcefully?
- What sorts of solutions are needed to ensure secure water supplies in the future? Will greater levels of water transfer around the country be sufficient, or is there a need for other solutions, such as building new reservoirs?