Rivers of S**: unbelievably, the Tory government and regulators Ofwat and the Environment Agency reckon they have not broken the law by failing to regulate this torrent of untreated sewage properly.
Unbelievable but true: the UK’s Tory government is digging its heels in and insisting that it, together with regulators Ofwat and the Environment Agency, has not broken the law over how it regulates sewage releases into the UK’s waterways.
The UK’s environment watchdog suspects the government and water regulators have broken the law over how they regulate sewage releases.
It follows continued high levels of sewage releases in England which topped 825 times a day last year.
Campaigners and opposition MPs have called the regulators “complicit” in allowing the pollution.
The government said it did not agree with the Office for Environmental Protection’s “initial interpretations”.
Following complaints to the OEP over sewage in June 2022 it announced it was investigating whether England’s regulators, Ofwat and the Environment Agency, along with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), were correctly enforcing the law on water companies.
In response to the announcement the government said: “The volume of sewage discharged is completely unacceptable. That is why we are the first government in history to take such comprehensive action to tackle it.”
That is hardly an alibi as it is the first UK government in history that needed to!
As for the substantive complaint – that far too much untreated sewage is stinking up our waterways – the instinctive urge is to come out with a lavatorial expletive like, “No sh**, Sherlock!”
This is now proved true: in a bid to save privatised water firms’ profits, the Tory government is asking them to spend less money on cleaning our water than is needed to do the job. You will drink dirty water; it will make you sick.
Earlier today, This Site reported that Thames Water – the privatised water firm that is in danger of collapse – has not paid any dividends to shareholders in six years.
That was the best information available to This Writer at the time.
However, new information has come to light:
Left: Rebecca Pow, "Thames Water has not paid any dividends for the last six years."
Economist Richard Murphy has examined the finances of all the privatised water companies, and has come back with several conclusions:
Their operating profit margin is a staggeringly-high 35 per cent. From this, we may conclude that there is no reason for Thames Water to be in danger of insolvency.
Every single penny they have made in profit has been paid out to shareholders in dividends. None was reinvested in infrastructure or equipment (borrowing paid for equipment and the infrastructure was ignored). So Tories like those on the BBC’s Politics Live on June 28 were wrong when they said money has been invested in improving infrastructure. We can’t say they were lying because they may have been misinformed, but someone definitely lied to them.
Mr Murphy’s conclusion on this is stark: “The public is being fleeced by these companies who are simply treating the fact that the English consumer has had no choice as to who to buy water from as a means to extract profit from them.”
But that’s not all!
The industry has made investments – £77bn on equipment, the rest on other financial investments. This has been funded mostly by borrowing, with £13bn coming from shareholders. This means the claim (when water was privatised) that private capital would fund water after privatisation was nonsense gibberish; it is being funded by borrowing.
Mr Murphy’s figures show £13bn invested by shareholders, who have received £25bn in dividends, meaning that for every pound they have put into the industry, they have received nearly two pounds in return.
It is clear that the water companies are environmentally insolvent. This means their business structures are not sustainable in terms of reducing pollution and if they are made to put in the necessary money to do so, they will go bankrupt.
What this means, of course is that the water firms have been polluting the UK’s waterways to a staggering extent. I’ll republish the part of Mr Murphy’s thread that covers this, so you have it straight from the horse’s mouth:
That pollution cannot persist. Unless it is stopped we will end up without reliable clean water in England. The estimated costs of ending this pollution do, however, vary considerably.
The House of Lords looked at this issue based on independent analysis and concluded that the most likely estimate of the cost of getting rid of all the pollution in our water was £260 billion. And that needs to be done as soon as possible. I suggest ten years.
What the industry is offering is something quite different. Even if they meet the government’s demand of them, at best I estimate that based on officially published data they might cut the crap in water by two-thirds, at best, by 2050.
In simple language: because they decided to take their massively-overinflated profits for themselves rather than invest them in improving the sewage system, the water companies and their shareholders have created a problem that will cost £260 billion to solve – and if they are made to shell out that money now, they will all go out of business.
The government is therefore asking them to pay slightly more than one-fifth of that amount – but as a result, your water supply will be polluted by the sewage and other rubbish that the water companies have pumped into the ecosystem.
This means the Conservative government – and you need to bear it in mind if you have a Tory MP – has said that it is happy for you to be made ill by polluted or infected water, in order to allow privatised water firms to continue making a profit.
The answer to all this, of course, is re-nationalisation.
Ah, but the government says this is too expensive, because of the cost of buying out the shareholders!
Is it, though?
Mr Murphy says no compensation should be offered to shareholders at all, because they have behaved in an irresponsible way that means it will cost more money to fix the problems they have created than they originally paid to own their parts of these firms.
He adds that providers of loans to the water firms may have to take a hit as well, because they made bad decisions in lending to these companies.
The Tories in government are unlikely to accept this because, even though it is in line with a basic principle of business that if you invest in something unprofitable, you lose money, it diverges from their strategy in privatising water in the first place: that the profits would go to private shareholders and it is the losses that will be paid for by the public and customers.
Mr Murphy makes another excellent suggestion – which is that, because the water industry will need to be supported with borrowed funds, it should issue water bonds to the public via ISAs. You could save in a way that ensures we get clean water in the future.
I appreciate that this is a lot of information but it is very important information that could affect your health, and that of your family and children in the future.
So please share this article to ensure the information in it is seen by as many people as possible.
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Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said his party would try force the Government to give Parliament more control over Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations [Image: Rex].
“Take back control” was the big, banner-riding rallying-cry for Brexiteers everywhere in the run-up to the EU referendum. Did those people have any idea they would actually be handing control to Tory ministers and not to the UK Parliament?
Under the terms of Theresa May’s plans, Conservative cabinet ministers will be able to ditch your hard-won human and working rights without any Parliamentary scrutiny at all.
The response from Labour, as outlined by Keir Starmer, seems to be what This Site and its readers reasoned last week: Support the implementation of Article 50, because that’s what the public demanded, but oppose anti-democratic plans by Theresa May and her government.
This refers to the so-called Great Repeal Bill, rather than the vote on any expected exit agreement Mrs May might make with the EU. The Bill would repeal the 1972 European Communities Act with which the UK joined the EEC (as it was then known) and enshrine all EU law relevant to the UK into UK law.
Then comes the sticking-point: Tory ministers would then be allowed to ditch anything they didn’t like, using so-called ‘Henry VIII’ powers.
Labour will not accept this. Nor should you.
So next time you see someone who told you that Brexit meant “we” would “take back control”, ask them who, exactly, “we” are supposed to be.
Did they mean “we, the people” – or “them – the Tories”?
Labour will not back a vital piece of Theresa May’s Brexit legislation if it contains sweeping powers allowing ministers to scrap vital workers’ rights, human rights and environmental provisions.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer vowed his party would fight Ms May “all the way” if she tried to use Brexit as an opportunity to adopt the so-called “Henry VIII powers”.
The expected move by the Government would render Parliament almost powerless to stop Tory ministers in post-Brexit Britain from dumping rights previously enshrined in EU law.
Because the terms of Theresa May’s Brexit deal will not be known when the legislation is to be passed this summer, the bill is likely to include a “Henry VIII clause” – named after the all-powerful king – allowing ministers to ditch bits of EU law they do not like with little parliamentary scrutiny.
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