Responding to the government’s announcement that money raised from fining illegally polluting water firms will be ringfenced to tackle water pollution, Conservative Environment Network (CEN) MP Philip Dunne commented:
"I'm delighted that the government has responded so swiftly to this suggestion that the polluter should pay to fix the problem.
“I have worked with other members of the Conservative Environment Network's Parliamentary Caucus as well as other civil society groups campaigning on water quality issues to recommend new river restoration schemes should be created using money raised from fining illegally polluting water companies.
"We must take a tough approach on firms that pollute our rivers, damaging habitats and stopping people from enjoying these precious natural assets. It's right that any money raised from fines is used to help restore local rivers and waterways for nature and recreational activities.
"This is another welcome move from this Conservative government on rivers, which has done more than any other to tackle water pollution."
The government announcement follows a new manifesto unveiled by members of the Conservative Environment Network’s Parliamentary Caucus last week, outlining ways the government can clean up the UK's rivers, seas, and waterways, which called for revenue raised from fining polluting water firms to be invested in local initiatives to tackle pollution.
The manifesto, which 40 CEN MPs and peers signed, also called for the government to:
Introduce a clear labelling system to stop people from flushing items like wet wipes, sanitary products and nappies that contribute to 300,000 sewer blockages a year, polluting our rivers and seas and costing bill payers £100 million annually to clear.
Designate at least 22 new river bathing water sites across England every five years, replicating the success of the coastal system, which spurred efforts to clean up our seas. In 1990, only 28 per cent of coastal bathing water sites met that time's high standard. Today, 93 per cent of the 400 sites are good or excellent.
Roll out the Environmental Land Management scheme, which will pay farmers to restore waterways and tackle flooding, and deploy sustainable farming methods reducing runoff from agriculture responsible for 40 per cent of damage to waterways.
Reform planning rules to build more reservoirs, fast-track on-farm reservoirs and slurry stores, set minimum water efficiency standards to tackle wasted water, make water firms statutory consultees on planning applications, and require new homes to have sustainable drainage.
Reform nutrient neutrality requirements to unlock the 120,000 new homes currently blocked across 74 local authority areas by creating a private market for developers to fund river catchment restoration to enable existing polluters to adopt cleaner practices.
The Conservative Environment Network says the manifesto proposals will accelerate the government's efforts to tackle water pollution, strengthen the UK's water security, and empower communities with new bathing water sites and funds to restore rivers locally.