Wa­ter com­pa­nies leaned on to re­duce pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME - MARK PECK Se­nior re­porter

RIVER fish­ing re­ceived a mas­sive boost this week with the news that UK wa­ter­ways are at their clean­est for decades.

In a yearly re­view of ma­jor wa­ter and sew­er­age com­pa­nies, an En­vi­ron­ment Agency report re­veals that pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents fell by 26 per cent in 2015 as in­creas­ing pres­sure was put on them to clean up their act.

A to­tal of 1,742 pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents were recorded in 2015 com­pared to 2,358 the year be­fore. The num­ber of se­ri­ous in­ci­dents has fallen by half since 2005.

An EA spokesman said that the re­sults are good news for the na­tion’s river lovers, but added that more work is still needed to be done: “The nine firms have made good progress in 2015 and have achieved record rates of sel­f­re­port­ing of pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents. This shows they are iden­ti­fy­ing ac­ci­dents ear­lier and re­spond­ing quicker to min­imise dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

“We have chal­lenged them to do even bet­ter by set­ting tough tar­gets to re­duce pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents fur­ther by 2020, but we recog­nise that there are poorer per­form­ing com­pa­nies that need to do more to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

“We’re work­ing closely with th­ese com­pa­nies, ad­dress­ing is­sues both at di­rec­tor level and on the ground.”

Nu­mer­ous rea­sons have been given for the de­crease in in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing heftier fines.

New sen­tenc­ing guide­lines in­tro­duced in 2014 saw a huge in­crease in fines for pol­luters.

In April last year York­shire Wa­ter was handed a record £1.1m fine af­ter sewage over­flowed into the Ouse in Au­gust 2013, af­fect­ing a kilometre of the river.

Pres­sure on wa­ter firms to im­prove per­for­mances has also grown since the EA in­tro­duced its En­vi­ron­men­tal Per­for­mance As­sess­ment (EPA) in 2011. The pro­gramme, which as­sesses com­pa­nies and how they com­pare with each other, forces them to achieve high lev­els of sel­f­re­port­ing of pol­lu­tion as well as un­der­tak­ing risk as­sess­ments to re­duce fu­ture spillages.

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