Whistleblowing portal launched for water industry workers

The Environment Agency has launched a whistleblowing portal for workers in a bid to crack down on issues like sewage pollution.

Those working in the sector are being encouraged to alert the watchdog to any concerns of serious environmental wrongdoing by their organisations.

As well as water companies, people working in the waste, nuclear, fishing, agricultural, and chemical sectors can also use the portal to report concerns, especially if they feel unable to raise issues with their company directly.

Information received could be used to support regulatory action, including criminal prosecutions and unlimited financial penalties, it added.

Alan Lovell, Environment Agency chairman, said: “We share the public’s disgust with sewage pollution and know there’s always more that can be done to protect our waterways.

“This new whistleblowing portal allows workers to raise their concerns and we encourage people to come forward, knowing any information will be treated in confidence and with sensitivity.

“The more evidence we have to identify potential criminality, then the more actions we can take to make lasting improvements to our environment.”

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We have been clear we will not tolerate pollution and water companies need to act quickly to improve their environmental performance.

It comes as part of wider Government plans to tackle concerns over levels of pollution being dumped into rivers, lakes and around coasts across the UK.

Sewage from overflow pipes and processing plants can cause harm to wildlife and the health of beachgoers as well as affect tourism and leisure industries.

The Government recently announced plans to block bonuses for water company executives where firms have committed serious criminal breaches, subject to Ofwat consultation, as well as to quadruple inspections on water companies in the next year.

Last week, five water companies appeared in court proceedings for the first time over allegations of under-reporting pollution incidents and over-charging customers as a result.

The Environment Agency is also conducting its own criminal investigation into potential widespread non-compliance by water and sewage companies at thousands of sewage treatment works.

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