The Department for Business and Trade has said it wants to stimulate competition within the water sector through streamlined regulation as well as delegating some of Ofwat's powers around the non-domestic market.
Environmental regulation in Wales came under fire from politicians at a select committee hearing where witnesses described a cultural aversion to enforcement at Natural Resources Wales. The organisation's CEO said prosecution indicated regulation had failed and did not benefit the environment.
The government is considering fundamental changes to the regulatory appeals process for water companies. This includes the possibility of moving away from a complete redetermination of company business plan submissions in favour of appealing specific aspects - to mirror the regime for energy.
Colum Goodchild, director of asset strategy at Aqua Consultants, argues water companies must do more with less and work closely with local communities and other stakeholders to manage assets effectively, tackle environmental issues, and rebuild faith in the sector.
Utility Week's latest roundup of sector coverage from the national press includes the chancellor's proposal to halve the delivery time for electricity projects, a pullback on heat pump promises and a legal case being launched against the government over the use of sewage sludge.
Northumbrian Water is spending more than £15 million to meet tighter phosphorous discharge permits that will come into effect December 2024. The company is upgrading five wastewater treatment sites in Durham to improve the quality of effluent returned to rivers
Profits fell at United Utilities for the six months to September, which the company said was in part due to an emergency £30 million pipe repair at a sewage plant. It is on-track to double its performance rewards for outcome delivery incentives compared to the previous year and earn £200 million for the five years to 2025.
Southern Water's plan to reduce spills from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) will see it exceed government's 2050 targets to drive down discharges. The company launched an interactive map of all overflow points outlining the work to be done, anticipated costs and timeline for improvements
South East Water is subject to an Ofwat investigation to assess whether it failed to develop and maintain an efficient water supply system. The heatwave followed by freezing temperatures in the winter left customers with low or no pressure and caused the company to have the sector's worst performance for interruptions.
Ofwat claims that it shaves more than £1 billion off the public’s water bills each year, through its activities with water companies. This includes enforcement, developing new markets, and, predominately through price control assessments.
The biggest fine issued for a discharge permit in Anglian Water's region was handed to Avara Foods for repeatedly breaching the terms of its consent. The manufacturer pleaded guilty to 30 charges and ordered to pay £226k.
Water companies will return £193 million to customers during the next year for missing performance commitments, Ofwat has confirmed. That is some £43 million less than the regulator had previously ruled would be returned when it made its draft determination in September. The decrease accounts for payments that have been deferred as well as tax allowances and “bespoke” adjustments being implemented.
Therese Coffey has been replaced as environment secretary of state by Steve Barclay after a bruising year in the post. Coffey, who has held the environment portfolio since Rishi Sunak formed his first government last October, announced that she was resigning as the prime minister embarked on a wide-ranging Cabinet reshuffle.
CCW has come out in support of unlimited fines being applied to organisations that cause pollution to the environment. The group said abolishing the current £250k cap on fines must be accompanied by a reassurance to consumers that remedial action is being taken to address the causes of pollution.