Guildford Conservative MP votes to weaken water regulator powers

26 Apr 2024
Zöe Franklin testing water from the River Wey

Guildford's Conservative MP, Angela Richardson votes in Parliament despite warnings from campaigners on the impact of controversial changes 

  • The “Growth duty” means Ofwat must now consider Water Companies’ economic growth before environmental sanctions 
  • Guildford’s Conservative MP Angela Richardson has voted for her party’s new proposals to ensure regulators imposing a fine or action on a company must first consider the impact on its economic growth
  • Fierce criticism that Water Companies can put Executives and Shareholders ahead of sewage sanctions

Guildford Liberal Democrat Candidate Zöe Franklin:  “The Conservatives have cynically pushed through restrictions on the powers of the water regulator. Yet more smoke and mirrors which will help the privatised water companies get out of sanctions while they continue to dump raw sewage in our waterways. 

“Latest Environment Agency figures showed Thames Water’s dumping of sewage in Guildford’s waterways shot up by 34% in a year. Despite this appalling environmental vandalism, Angela Richardson still voted to restrict Ofwat’s powers. 

The “Growth duty” requires regulators to consider the impact of sanctions, including fines, on a company’s growth. 

Critics argue this will incentivise water companies to value their bottom lines, which include executive pay and shareholder payouts, and regulator fines for sewage pollution could be argued to be “hindering growth”.

Environmental groups including the Wildlife and Countryside Link and Surfers Against Sewage are among campaign groups warning these changes will diminish regulator powers. 

Zöe Franklin continued: “Once again, in the dying days of this failing government, we see where the Conservatives’ priorities lie - privatised water companies and their shareholders ahead of us and our environment.  

“If the Conservative government had any genuine commitment to our environment, how could we possibly be in the mess we’re in now? This latest move to undermine environmental safeguards and sanctions shows us what their real priorities have always been.

“What Guildford needs is a strong representative in parliament, an MP who puts the people of Guildford first. I am not a person to unquestioningly follow a line, I am committed to standing up for what is right. That is what Guildford deserves in parliament.”  

More Information:

A list of how MPs voted on the Statutory Instrument to change Ofwat's powers can be found here.

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