Chair of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee Stephen Crabb MP invited representatives from Welsh Water, Natural Resources Wales and water regulator Ofwat back to Parliament (22 November) to give evidence to the committee following further reports of illegal sewage dumping in Wales.
During the session, Mr Crabb took the opportunity to ask about the pollution in the River Teifi that is threatening the blue flag status of the popular beach, Poppit Sands, in North Pembrokeshire – a situation widely reported on in Welsh media in recent weeks.
The Committee also heard from Professor Peter Hammond from the group, Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, who has been investigating illegal sewage dumping backed up by evidence and data regarding spills and overflows.
Mr Crabb challenged the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales - Claire Pillman on why levels of prosecutions and fines are so low in Wales. Defending her record, Ms Pillman denied that there was a culture of ‘complacency’ around sewage in Wales, and said that she was ‘appalled’ by the state of Welsh waters.
In Wales, Welsh Government are responsible for tackling sewage and pollution. There is stark difference in approach between UK and Welsh Government, with UK Government now focused on reducing the number of discharges, and Welsh Government more concerned about the extent of the heavily polluted incidents as opposed to the quantity.
Welsh MPs remain deeply concerned about the performance of water companies in Wales when it comes to sewage.
Following the session, Mr Crabb added:
“It is not good enough just to blame the fact that Wales is rainier than other parts of the country or that we have older pipework - we need a stronger clearer action plan and that needs to start right at the very top with Welsh Government.”
“We have a beautiful coastline and beaches here in Pembrokeshire, but good water quality is needed to protect our natural environment and ensure that people can enjoy the water year round.”