Environment Agency responds to Panorama investigation

The Environment Agency has responded to the December 4th broadcast by the BBC of it’s Panorama programme – ‘The Water Pollution Cover-Up’. 

The programme discussed the Environment Agency’s regulation of the water industry with a specific focus on United Utilities and raised questions about sewage spills, self regulation, and whether or not water companies can ‘game’ the system.

In response, an Environment Agency spokesperson said:

“We take our responsibility to protect the environment very seriously and will always pursue and prosecute companies that are deliberately obstructive or misleading.

“We assess and record every incident report we receive – between 70,000 and 100,000 a year. We respond to every incident and attend those where there is a significant risk – including every category 1 or 2 incident in the North West since 2016. In the last six years we have pursued four successful criminal prosecutions against United Utilities and required the company to pay millions to environmental charities to put right the cause and effects of their offending.

“We are strengthening our regulation by expanding our specialised workforce, increasing compliance checks and using new data and intelligence tools to inform our work. We will also soon have new powers to deliver civil penalties that are quicker and easier to enforce.”

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