The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Steve Barclay, has written to water companies asking them to improve maintenance programmes to ensure these are not a cause of storm overflow discharges.

He highlights this is a legal requirement that water companies should already be delivering and states his plans to closely follow the implementation of these programmes. The Secretary of State also praises the success of some water companies in identifying interim solutions to reduce storm overflow discharges. He encourages water companies to provide more information on further opportunities to fund and deliver more of these interim solutions.

He has also written to the Environment Agency to set out his expectations of the regulator in holding water companies to account in relation to their environmental performance. He highlights the implementation of new enforcement powers by the Environment Agency, which remove the cap on variable monetary penalties (VMPs), so that these are unlimited, and expand the scope of offences to which these penalties apply.

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