PRESS RELEASE: Lib Dems call for Sewage Tax on Thames Water after £488.8 million profit revealed

March 16, 2022 2:46 PM

Guildford & Cranleigh Liberal Democrats have called for a 'Sewage Tax' on water companies to fund the cleaning up of rivers polluted by sewage dumps.

It comes as the Liberal Democrats have revealed Thames Water made a staggering £488.8 million in operating profits last year. The figures, taken from CompaniesHouse records, also show the water firm made £2.1 billion in revenue.

The local Liberal Democrats have demanded a new tax on water companies' profits after repeated sewage dumps in the River Wey and other local rivers. The 'Sewage Tax' of 16% on water companies would create an emergency fund for cleaning up rivers. The policy was officially backed by the Liberal Democrats at their Spring Conference this past weekend.

Funds to support the clean-up of local waterways are crucial; currently, the River Wey flowing through Guildford and Waverley is in the worst 23% in terms of ecological and general river health. Sewage discharges by Thames Water into local waterways rose by 64% to 1789 hours in 2020 with the worst single incident being a 476-hour spill.

The Liberal Democrats also challenged local Conservative MP Angela Richardson to back calls for a Sewage Tax, after she refused to back tougher action against water companies that dump sewage in local rivers in a vote in Parliament last year.

New analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed Britain's nine water companies made a total £2.8bn in combined operating profits last year.

The move follows outrage at water companies discharging sewage into rivers over 400,000 times in 2020, according to the Environment Agency. Only 14% of England's rivers are in good ecological health, according to the Rivers Trust.

Liberal Democrat Candidate Zöe Franklin said:

ZF next to River Wey"These profits are absolutely scandalous. Our treasured local rivers have been polluted by disgusting sewage yet Thames Water is raking in massive profits without taking any action.

"It was clear from the protest we organised last year and local people's reaction online and in doorstep conversations that they are deeply unhappy at how badly Thames Water treats our local environment.

"I spoke as part of the Conference debate on this issue highlighting the issues we have here in Guildford along with calling for more powers for our councils to hold water companies to account. I'm pleased that these proposals were adopted - our local councils have the best understanding of local communities and environment, and any development that is due to take place. Water companies must listen to and councils need to be able to require water companies to take real, urgent action.

"It is time our local Conservative MP finally stood up to the Government and Thames Water. Guildford and Cranleigh needs a MP willing to take action against these sewage dumps in our river."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey MP said:

"An environmental disaster is taking place in our towns, cities and villages, yet the Government shows no signs of taking action.

"Last year the Government initially refused to ban sewage dumps in rivers, then they let water companies carry on as normal by failing to set meaningful timescales and targets. The very least they could do now is to force water companies to clean up their mess.



Companies House data on operating profits of water companies 2020/2021 can be found here.

Rivers Trust report:

Reporting of Environment Agency report into sewage discharge: