Lib Dems table new law to compensate sewage sickness victims

4 Dec 2023
Two young people swimming in the sea

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill which would provide compensation to those who have suffered illness as a result of sewage in the waterways of England and Wales.

The new amendment comes in the wake of government statistics released on Friday, which found a sharp rise in the number of bathing water sites rated as "poor quality." The Bill comes before Parliament on Monday 4th December.

It would permit anyone who has suffered illness as a direct result of criminal conduct in relation to sewage to claim compensation. It would also ensure the government establishes a compensation scheme. It has been uncovered that water firms have discharged sewage illegally, including dry spills, where sewage is discharged despite no rainfall beforehand. 

Conservative Ministers have let water firms get away with their destructive ways for far too long. There needs to be justice for victims of potential environmental crimes, especially swimmers and families simply wanting to enjoy beaches and lakes. 


Coastline with discoloured water

The amendment would cover the following, with the Liberal Democrats calling on water firms profits to fund the scheme:

  • Provide for the payment of compensation to people who have become unwell as a result of bathing in water contaminated by sewage.

  • Make provision in relation to the medical evidence required to support a claim for compensation under the regulations.

Water company CEOs are pocketing millions in bonuses whilst swimmers get sick. This cannot carry on. If someone is poisoned by sewage, they should be compensated for it. 

With growing evidence of water firms committing illegal sewage spills and letting their sewage monitors remain broken, there is an overwhelming case to provide compensation for sickness. 

The amendment follows a recent report by Surfers Against Sewage, which found between October 2022 and September 2023, a staggering 1,924 water users, including swimmers, reported getting ill after entering the water. This is triple the number reported in 2021/2022.

Water companies have dumped sewage for 7.5 million hours over the last three years, this including over 450,000 hours of dumps into England’s designated bathing waters. Over the same period England’s top water execs were paid £73 million, including £41 million in bonuses, benefits and incentives. 

The Liberal Democrats have exposed the sewage scandal and will continue to stand up for the victims of this environmental catastrophe, this amendment will hold the Conservatives and water companies to account.

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