CULM Valley MP Richard Foord was celebrating on Wednesday (January 24) after winning his battle with the Government to stop water companies collecting and reporting on their own data on sewage discharges.

Mr Foord, who represents parishes stretching from Hemyock to Holcombe Rogus, had campaigned against water companies being allowed to ‘mark their own homework’ on data showing whether or not they were illegally polluting rivers.

The responsibility for both collecting data on sewage discharges and reporting to Government on the data had been left with the private companies since 2009.

The ‘in-house’ data collection and assessment meant there was little oversight by Government or environmental regulators as to the ‘true’ scale of sewage discharges into watercourses.

Liberal Democrat Mr Foord tabled a Bill in Parliament last year which was expected to be debated next month and would make the Environment Agency legally responsible for checking data collected by water companies and offering its own assessment of the situation.

Now, the Government has told the water companies the Environment Agency will be tasked with carrying out official inspections of its own.

The Government was also thought to be considering a ban on dividends being paid to water firm bosses if it was proven that illegal discharges were taking place. 

Mr Foord said: “I am delighted that Ministers have agreed to adopt my proposal, which ends the farce of water companies marking their own homework on sewage spills.

“Now, we need to see the Government go further and beef-up our regulators with the power to properly crack down on this negligence.

“These negligent firms have been allowed by the Government to get away with this for so long and it must be addressed.

“I will not stop fighting to ensure that Conservatives hear the anger from people across the Westcountry.”