MP calls for new rules to force water companies to clean up sewage after Sheffield incident
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Clive Betts said it was wrong residents in Wesfield were having to pay to clean up a spill themselves. Speaking in the House of Commons, he said Yorkshire Water accepted it is was their sewage but had not helped with the clean up.
He said: “Water regulations are woefully out of date. We now have a ludicrous situation whereby Yorkshire Water can admit that its sewage has spilt into people’s homes and gardens but are able to avoid paying for its removal. I really feel for residents on the Westfield estate who have been forced to pay out of their own pocket for the clean-up, whilst shareholders continue to rake in enormous sums. Yorkshire Water is taking advantage of legal shortcomings to force the cost upon residents who have done nothing wrong.
“What I am calling for are updated regulations which ensure that in cases such as this the water company responsible would be forced to pay for the removal of their sewage. That is the bare minimum quite frankly, however the government is failing to even accept that a problem exists - this needs to change. In the meantime, the government need to put pressure on water companies to do what we all know is the right thing.”
Yorkshire Water recorded 169,576 spillage incidents between 2016 and 2021, equating to one incident every 18 minutes, he added.
At the same time, dividends to shareholders continue to be paid out in ‘enormous sums'. In 2020, £110m was paid out to shareholders, in 2021 this was £45.2m, and in 2022 this was £52.6m. Meanwhile, investments to prevent overflows “remained low” with only £2.2m being invested each year.
Yorkshire Water was approached for comment. In May, the firm apologised over high levels of sewage being discharged into the county's rivers and seas.
Chief executive Nicola Shaw admitted the company had not done enough to tackle storm overflows, which release raw sewage into rivers at times of high rainfall. The company planned to invest £180m by March 2025 to build more capacity to store waste water, she added.