Last Autumn I wrote to the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, alongside three other Conservative MPs who have the River Wye run through their constituencies.

We were concerned about the levels of phosphate pollution in the river and, having formed the Wye Phosphates Working Group, had spent 18 months working hard to bring this issue to the attention of key agencies, water companies and other stakeholders.

We called on the Chief Secretary to use the fines levied on water companies to clean up at-risk rivers, and in particular the Wye.

I am pleased to share that the Government has listened to our concerns and followed our recommendation.

Under new government plans, money from fines handed out to water companies that pollute our rivers and seas will be re-invested in schemes that benefit our natural environment.

Water companies were handed a record amount in fines for pollution incidents last year as part of ongoing action to hold rule-breakers to account.

At present, money from fines imposed by Ofwat and those arising from Environment Agency prosecutions is returned to the Treasury.

Under the new plans, ringfenced funds will go to Defra and will be invested directly back into environmental and water quality improvement projects.

This could include initiatives to restore our water environments by creating wetlands, re-vegetating river banks and reconnecting meanders to the main channel of rivers.

To crack down on water pollution, government has boosted funding for the Environment Agency, with £2.2 million per year specifically for water company enforcement activity, including at least 4,000 farm visits per year and 500 sewerage inspections.

This comes on top of the requirement for water companies to invest in the natural environment – raising the largest ever environmental infrastructure investment of £56 billion over 25 years.

Introduced earlier this year, water companies must now conform to strict targets on sewage pollution and will be required to deliver the largest infrastructure programme in their history to tackle storm sewage discharges.

Contact me: [email protected] | | House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA | @Mark_J_Harper |