New powers to ensure water dividends linked to environmental performance.

The water regulator, Ofwat, has updated licences to ensure water companies take account of their environmental performance before paying out dividends.

The Environment Act 2021 gave new powers to Ofwat to enable it to modify water licences without needing consent from water companies. The regulator has also updated the licence so that water companies must have a strong credit rating and be in robust financial health before any payments to shareholders can be made.

Ofwat will be able to take enforcement action against companies that flout the new rules.

Yorkshire Water has not paid dividends for seven years and has recently announced £180m to tackle sewage discharges. This forms part of their obligations under the Government’s £56bn Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan to deal with the issue nationwide.

Commenting on this Andrew Jones MP said: “Water companies paying dividends while discharging sewage into rivers is not a good look. I am pleased the regulator can now enforce against this.

“It is good to see that Yorkshire Water are investing significant sums into tackling the problem and are not paying out. I am working closely with them on this issue and on my work to achieve bathing water quality status for the Lido in Knaresborough.”

You can find out more about the bathing water campaign here.