I am delighted that this morning the government announced that they are adopting the first policy listed within the Changing Course manifesto: water company fines will now be channelled into environmental improvements, rather than going back to the Treasury. This is a change I and other MPs have been pushing for for a long time.
New Ministers have responded at very welcome pace to take up one of the principal proposals in CEN’s rivers manifesto Changing Course, published only this month, that fines from polluters will in future no longer be windfall gain for the Treasury, but will be paid to DEFRA specifically for use in helping fix pollution and improve water quality.
My thanks to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, DEFRA SoS Thérèse Coffey and DLUHC SoS Michael Gove plus Ministers Rebecca Pow and Lucy Frazer who have all played their part in getting this policy change through.
Last year I created the Morgan's Hill Rivers Group to make improvements along three of south England’s major rivers. One of our main calls on Government was that fines should be used more frequently, and the money raised from all fines should be used to finance remediation and nature-based solutions in the affected catchment area. I am very pleased to see these ideas being put into practice.