I have been following the performance of utility companies closely. While these are privately-owned, they are regulated by independent bodies mandated by Parliament. I have had a great deal of contact with the water companies, urging Southern Water in particular to continue improvements to its performance. Southern Water were hit by a record fine in 2019 for their poor performance in previous years, and consumers are being rebated for it also. I welcome the strong action the Environment Agency took, and I keep in close touch with it too.

I have questioned Southern Water about past sewage leaks, and where these are the result of infrastructure weakness it is their responsibility to correct it. However a recurring problem is that people flush away fat, wet wipes, or other materials which do not belong in the sewers, and block pipes and pumps. I have visited waste treatment works and seen how the screens pick up all manner of things which have been incorrectly disposed of and which have ended up there after passing through the sewers.

Fatbergs in sewers simply congeal and require huge amounts of work to detect, break up, and dispose of. Everyone has a role to play in improving the performance of the waste network through more efficient use of water and more care in how waste is disposed of in the home. I was surprised to learn at the meeting I held with environmental groups and the water companies that the water industry uses 4% of all the electricity generated in the UK. There is clearly scope for saving energy in all stages of the process of water treatment and consumption and I will be looking further into this.

I am pleased that the EA’s reporting on the River Meon and its tributaries shows that our chalk streams are less polluted now than they have been for decades, and I will keep up the pressure on water companies and others who are at risk of polluting our environment to improve their standards.

I recently held a meeting at Denmead which brought all of these together, and I was pleased with the big attendance of constituents who had a chance to put the right people on the spot. We had some excellent discussion, and I will hold other events like this in the future. They are a great opportunity to set the record straight and clear the air. There is more information here:

Southern Water still needs to ensure that it is better able to cope with storm water surges, because these are the cause of the overflows which are topical at present. Southern Water’s Beachbuoy reporting service is a very good way to track when events have taken place:

The plan which will be presented to Parliament next month will set out the obligations on water companies more clearly. This document is a legal obligation under the Environment Act which I supported and which does much more to achieve the aim of ending these surges than the amendment I voted against. There is more information on the plan on this link:

I hope this information is useful to you, and thank you again for getting in touch.