Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department has plans to work with United Utilities to ensure that (a) treated and (b) untreated sewage is not discharged into Windermere lake.
Defra engages regularly with water company representatives at both an official and ministerial level, including United Utilities (UU), to protect our waterbodies from sewage discharges.
The Government expects all water companies to deliver the targets set out in the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan as fast as possible and by the target end dates at the latest.
In the Windermere catchment, the Environment Agency (EA) continues to hold United UU to account for its operations. Where the EA has issued environmental permits, it has robustly checked compliance and all assets were inspected between 2020 and 2023. Where breaches of permit conditions are identified, the EA used its powers to ensure that UU improved operations and brought sites back into compliance. The EA holds regular production meetings with UU to discuss and resolve compliance issues.
This year, the EA will begin reviewing larger volume environmental permits on the catchment – including those of UU. If current permit conditions are no longer effective at protecting the environment, the EA will impose tighter environmental standards. The EA delivers a strategic environmental monitoring programme and with environmental data collected by the Citizen Science Big Windermere Survey and other partners it is better able to understand where UU assets may be impacting on the environment. Where improvements are required, the EA will work with UU to include the improvement schemes in future Asset Management Programmes.