The authorities has been accused of making an attempt to cover an absence of motion over the dumping of sewage into rivers and coastlines round England.
Ministers have been advised their strategy to transparency “absolutely stinks” after they refused to confide in MPs if and after they had met with water bosses to resolve the issue.
It comes after the federal government was positioned below investigation by the atmosphere regulator for allegedly failing in its duties to handle the standard of water.
Deteriorating water high quality in England’s rivers and seas is a rising concern, with personal water firms routinely discharging untreated human waste regularly.
Despite guidelines that say they need to solely be dumping the sewage in distinctive circumstances, official figures present storm sewage discharges surged by greater than a 3rd between 2019 and 2020, to 403,171 incidents.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has stated the rising drawback of faeces in river water is a “major issue” and “unacceptable on health grounds”.
But requested by a written parliamentary query after they had met with water firms over the difficulty, Conservative water minister Steve Double appeared to stonewall.
He referred MPs to a different reply he had beforehand given during which he stated the federal government “repeatedly made it clear to the water industry that the current use of sewage discharges is unacceptable” – however gave no listing of conferences or indication that any had targeted on the issue.
“This absolutely stinks of ministers hiding from their failure to stop the sewage scandals,” stated Liberal Democrat atmosphere spokesperson Tim Farron, who requested the query.
“When will the Government come clean about their lack of action on water companies dumping sewage into our treasured lakes, rivers and beaches?”
Mr Farron, a former Lib Dem chief, added: “It is time we made the polluter pay for their actions.
“This ought to embody a Sewage Tax on the multi-billion pound earnings of water firms. Instead, we’ve got a Minister refusing to even inform us if they’re assembly with water firms, not to mention taking robust motion on them. What a whole farce.
“Both the Environment Agency and British public want action on this, yet Conservative Ministers seem to think otherwise.”
The Office for Environmental Protection’s investigation, launched final month, is probing whether or not atmosphere secretary George Eustice, the Environment Agency (EA) and water companies regulator Ofwat failed of their duties within the administration of water high quality.
The OEP investigation will search “to determine whether these authorities have failed to comply with their respective duties in relation to the regulation, including the monitoring and enforcement, of water companies’ own duties to manage sewage”, the organisation stated in an announcement.
Approach for remark, a Defra spokesperson stated: “Restoring our rivers is a government priority. We regularly meet water companies at an official and ministerial level to discuss policies and issues related to water quality.
“Ministers and water companies have held three meetings this year where storm overflows were specifically discussed, in addition to further regular meetings to discuss a range of other water quality issues over the course of the year.
“We have been consistently clear that we expect water companies to take significant and urgent action to tackle pollution and we won’t hesitate to take further action if we do not see the changes we expect. This has been communicated directly to water companies at all levels.”