Another sewage incident.

HugalHugal Shipmate
United Utilities again have let sewage into Lake Windermere and only reported it well after the incident. BBC link to the story.
Untreated sewage illegally pumped into Windermere https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cv266nqq48xo

UU in particular but water companies as a whole are being deliberately lax or deliberately dumping waste. What can we do to stop them?

Comments

  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited May 15
    Part of the problem is that the Environment Agency hasn't so much been cut to the bone as dismembered and the bones sold for glue. It doesn't have anything like the capacity it needs to do anything but nod and write down what polluters tell it.
  • Merry VoleMerry Vole Shipmate
    It takes a lot for me to write to my MP -but I did, a while back, and told my (Tory) MP I thought water should be in public ownership. I got a standard copy and paste reply about water companies need to be private so they can attract the investment needed.... blah blah.
    Why don't Labour make nationalisation of water a manifesto pledge?
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    It’s disgusting that so little care is taken to prevent pollution of the waters.

    I didn’t think I’d see the day when we needed to boil our tap water before drinking it either.

    Our water should never have been privatised - nor should our power.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Merry Vole wrote: »
    It takes a lot for me to write to my MP -but I did, a while back, and told my (Tory) MP I thought water should be in public ownership. I got a standard copy and paste reply about water companies need to be private so they can attract the investment needed.... blah blah.
    Why don't Labour make nationalisation of water a manifesto pledge?

    They have said they would buy out the train companies but not water. That was only because of pressure from the public. Blair was pro selling. Starmer is pretty close to Blair in his thinking. On top of that there is only so much money in the public purse.
    Don’t get me wrong I wish Lab would bring water and power back into public ownership. However it is not that easy.
    We need to give the companies reasons to do things properly. Heavy fines that would make a difference to their bottom line. Only so many offences and you lose the right to run the power or water. Very little leniency to offenders. One or two high profile cases should bring them in line.
  • Merry Vole wrote: »
    It takes a lot for me to write to my MP -but I did, a while back, and told my (Tory) MP I thought water should be in public ownership. I got a standard copy and paste reply about water companies need to be private so they can attract the investment needed.... blah blah.
    Why don't Labour make nationalisation of water a manifesto pledge?

    Here's an extract from the Labour Party website:

    https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/heres-how-labour-will-tackle-sewage-spills-in-uk-rivers-and-seas/

  • Hugal wrote: »
    Merry Vole wrote: »
    It takes a lot for me to write to my MP -but I did, a while back, and told my (Tory) MP I thought water should be in public ownership. I got a standard copy and paste reply about water companies need to be private so they can attract the investment needed.... blah blah.
    Why don't Labour make nationalisation of water a manifesto pledge?

    They have said they would buy out the train companies but not water. That was only because of pressure from the public. Blair was pro selling. Starmer is pretty close to Blair in his thinking. On top of that there is only so much money in the public purse.
    Don’t get me wrong I wish Lab would bring water and power back into public ownership. However it is not that easy.
    We need to give the companies reasons to do things properly. Heavy fines that would make a difference to their bottom line. Only so many offences and you lose the right to run the power or water. Very little leniency to offenders. One or two high profile cases should bring them in line.

    One might suggest that one must shoot a water company from time to time to encourage the others.
  • Merry VoleMerry Vole Shipmate
    Merry Vole wrote: »
    It takes a lot for me to write to my MP -but I did, a while back, and told my (Tory) MP I thought water should be in public ownership. I got a standard copy and paste reply about water companies need to be private so they can attract the investment needed.... blah blah.
    Why don't Labour make nationalisation of water a manifesto pledge?

    Here's an extract from the Labour Party website:

    https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/heres-how-labour-will-tackle-sewage-spills-in-uk-rivers-and-seas/

    Bring a successful criminal conviction against a water boss? And we taxpayers have to fund that legal action..
    I don't believe it could happen.
  • Merry Vole wrote: »
    Merry Vole wrote: »
    It takes a lot for me to write to my MP -but I did, a while back, and told my (Tory) MP I thought water should be in public ownership. I got a standard copy and paste reply about water companies need to be private so they can attract the investment needed.... blah blah.
    Why don't Labour make nationalisation of water a manifesto pledge?

    Here's an extract from the Labour Party website:

    https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/heres-how-labour-will-tackle-sewage-spills-in-uk-rivers-and-seas/

    Bring a successful criminal conviction against a water boss? And we taxpayers have to fund that legal action..
    I don't believe it could happen.

    Well, yes. I'll believe it when I see it.

    I guess complete nationalisation would be rather too costly in terms of £££, given the Herculean task a new Labour government would have anyway...

    *Broken Britain* is going to take a generation or two to improve, let alone fix...
  • Merry VoleMerry Vole Shipmate
    If a company has massive debts and struggling to service those debts as well as carry out it's core business doesn't it end up being worth peanuts?
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Hell Host
    Merry Vole wrote: »
    If a company has massive debts and struggling to service those debts as well as carry out it's core business doesn't it end up being worth peanuts?

    The net value of the business is peanuts, but the business still has assets and creditors with a claim on them.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Yep the government could have to take on the debt. Which means we pay it not those who got the company into debt.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Hell Host
    A Lib Dem amendment that would have criminalised companies that failed to try and tackle sewage spills came up before parliament on Wednesday. The Tories voted against and Labour abstained.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    A Lib Dem amendment that would have criminalised companies that failed to try and tackle sewage spills came up before parliament on Wednesday. The Tories voted against and Labour abstained.

    I sometimes wonder what the point of politicians is, apart from playing their power games.
  • Ha! That is The Question That Must NEVER Be Asked™!
  • Hugal wrote: »
    What can we do to stop them?

    Throw the CEO of each company that pollutes our water in jail. Again and again and again. Sooner or later the next CEO will make avoiding such spills a priority.

    Alternatively (or additionally), fines of 50% of the company’s gross turnover per offence would probably focus the shareholders minds on finding a solution.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    What can we do to stop them?

    Throw the CEO of each company that pollutes our water in jail. Again and again and again. Sooner or later the next CEO will make avoiding such spills a priority.

    Alternatively (or additionally), fines of 50% of the company’s gross turnover per offence would probably focus the shareholders minds on finding a solution.

    Yep we need some kind of strong action to be taken. The Cons will not do that.
  • DavidDavid Shipmate
    We could make the CEOs bathe in, and drink, their own water.
  • Their own sewage might be more salutary...though in some cases, it amounts to the same thing.

    Anyone off on holiday to toxic South Devon this Bank Holiday weekend? Don't drink the water, and don't breathe the air...
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Their own sewage might be more salutary...though in some cases, it amounts to the same thing.

    Anyone off on holiday to toxic South Devon this Bank Holiday weekend? Don't drink the water, and don't breathe the air...

    There is a hilarious Billy Connolly sketch called "Dont drink the water." Its on YouTube - but the usual warning needs to be made when that story teller is involved.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Penny S wrote: »
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.

    The answer to your first question is no, most definitely no. To the statement "But that's silly - yes.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Penny S wrote: »
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.

    The answer to your first question is no, most definitely no. To the statement "But that's silly - yes.

    Not sure it's silly, but breaching limited liability would have far-reaching consequences and would need to be carefully considered, and possibly restricted to a few well-defined situations. The question for me would be whether shareholders knew, or could have been reasonably expected to know, that their returns were a result of underinvestment. I'm not sure they could have, and hence it wouldn't be fair to make them liable. Whether the water companies should be fined into insolvency, rendering the shares worthless, is another matter entirely.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Perhaps fining them as you say, then taking the company in place of actually paying money, needs very careful consideration.
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    I understand there's a new ruling by which groups such as fishing clubs and other users of the river can now sue the water companies for discharging sewage.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Penny S wrote: »
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.

    The problem is that shares may not only be owned by individuals as part of a portfolio. They may also have pension fund money in them. Also shares are often bought on their status (going up or down) rather than any real thinking going into it
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Hell Host
    Hugal wrote: »
    Penny S wrote: »
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.

    The problem is that shares may not only be owned by individuals as part of a portfolio. They may also have pension fund money in them. Also shares are often bought on their status (going up or down) rather than any real thinking going into it

    That's a problem for the funds that invested in them, but that's not necessarily a good reason for distorting the market by allowing the costs incurred by the company to be externalised.

    Let the shareholders take a bath if necessary. Pension funds will have diverse investments of which holdings in water companies will be a very small amount. There's no fundamental reason why governments should protect pension funds from the downsides of their investment strategies - that would just create moral hazard.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    Penny S wrote: »
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.

    The problem is that shares may not only be owned by individuals as part of a portfolio. They may also have pension fund money in them. Also shares are often bought on their status (going up or down) rather than any real thinking going into it

    That's a problem for the funds that invested in them, but that's not necessarily a good reason for distorting the market by allowing the costs incurred by the company to be externalised.

    Let the shareholders take a bath if necessary. Pension funds will have diverse investments of which holdings in water companies will be a very small amount. There's no fundamental reason why governments should protect pension funds from the downsides of their investment strategies - that would just create moral hazard.

    It is difficult. Pensions have taken a hiding from Lizz Truss and her idiotic ideas. To hit them again seem uncalled for. Why should my pension suffer because of the water companies are crap. Fine the companies hard yes, hard enough to make a difference not just a small amount but state pensions are not good. All the money will be needed to have a decent retirement.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Hell Host
    edited July 9
    Hugal wrote: »
    Hugal wrote: »
    Penny S wrote: »
    Aren't the shareholders also responsible, having bought a public asset to make a profit? Not just the CEOs. I suppose there's something of a morlock lurking in me sayimg they should be fined. Made to surrender their shares for nothing so the water is publicly run again.
    But that's silly.

    The problem is that shares may not only be owned by individuals as part of a portfolio. They may also have pension fund money in them. Also shares are often bought on their status (going up or down) rather than any real thinking going into it

    That's a problem for the funds that invested in them, but that's not necessarily a good reason for distorting the market by allowing the costs incurred by the company to be externalised.

    Let the shareholders take a bath if necessary. Pension funds will have diverse investments of which holdings in water companies will be a very small amount. There's no fundamental reason why governments should protect pension funds from the downsides of their investment strategies - that would just create moral hazard.

    It is difficult. Pensions have taken a hiding from Lizz Truss and her idiotic ideas. To hit them again seem uncalled for. Why should my pension suffer because of the water companies are crap.

    Why should a particular company/asset be immune from downside purely because a few pensions choose to invest in them (or actually invest in managed funds which in turn invest in them) ?

    If the government is going to guarantee pension values, there are fairer and less market distorting ways of doing that.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    It is difficult. Pensions have taken a hiding from Lizz Truss and her idiotic ideas. To hit them again seem uncalled for. Why should my pension suffer because of the water companies are crap. Fine the companies hard yes, hard enough to make a difference not just a small amount but state pensions are not good. All the money will be needed to have a decent retirement.

    So you're arguing that water companies should be protected from the consequences of their actions because many of their shares are owned by pension funds? That sounds like a ridiculous case of special pleading to me. Should a buy-to-let landlord be exempt from an improvement to the rights of tenants if his rental properties are a retirement investment? Can I choose not to pay my taxes if my defense is "but I really need the money"?
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    It is difficult. Pensions have taken a hiding from Lizz Truss and her idiotic ideas. To hit them again seem uncalled for. Why should my pension suffer because of the water companies are crap. Fine the companies hard yes, hard enough to make a difference not just a small amount but state pensions are not good. All the money will be needed to have a decent retirement.

    So you're arguing that water companies should be protected from the consequences of their actions because many of their shares are owned by pension funds? That sounds like a ridiculous case of special pleading to me. Should a buy-to-let landlord be exempt from an improvement to the rights of tenants if his rental properties are a retirement investment? Can I choose not to pay my taxes if my defense is "but I really need the money"?

    No the water companies should pay for what they do. I did say big meaningful fines. I meant ones big enough to cause them real problems, with loss of contract a big reality.
    If Truss had not wreaked the pensions then I might agree, but she did.
    There are ways to punish a company without punishing future pensioners again.
    I am for bringing them back into public ownership. I do think however they should be responsible for any debt that they have. We shouldn’t have to pay for their incompetence
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Sorry to double post. If a company is seen as being bad or unprofitable the shareholders can remove their funding. The shareholders can also punish a company
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Shareholders can’t really remove funding. They can sell their shares, but that funding still stays in the company. Of course if the company is seen as bad or unprofitable they are likely to make a loss when they sell them. In the end if shareholders do that and the share price falls it will make it harder for the company to increase funding by issuing more shares or obtaining loans.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Hell Host
    Hugal wrote: »
    Hugal wrote: »
    It is difficult. Pensions have taken a hiding from Lizz Truss and her idiotic ideas. To hit them again seem uncalled for. Why should my pension suffer because of the water companies are crap. Fine the companies hard yes, hard enough to make a difference not just a small amount but state pensions are not good. All the money will be needed to have a decent retirement.

    So you're arguing that water companies should be protected from the consequences of their actions because many of their shares are owned by pension funds? That sounds like a ridiculous case of special pleading to me. Should a buy-to-let landlord be exempt from an improvement to the rights of tenants if his rental properties are a retirement investment? Can I choose not to pay my taxes if my defense is "but I really need the money"?

    No the water companies should pay for what they do. I did say big meaningful fines. I meant ones big enough to cause them real problems, with loss of contract a big reality.

    Sure and both of those would result in lower (or zero) share prices, which would affect all investors, and I'm open to both realities, but you seem to see either as problematic.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Maybe I am not getting it across right
  • DafydDafyd Hell Host
    The problem is that presumably the pension funds have been investing in the water companies because they saw the water companies as a reliable source of value; and the reason the water companies were a reliable source of value is that they were not investing but paying out dividends while running at a loss, in the expectation that the government would have to cover their debts.
  • betjemaniacbetjemaniac Shipmate
    edited July 10
    Dafyd wrote: »
    The problem is that presumably the pension funds have been investing in the water companies because they saw the water companies as a reliable source of value; and the reason the water companies were a reliable source of value is that they were not investing but paying out dividends while running at a loss, in the expectation that the government would have to cover their debts.

    Although a halfway decent investment analyst should be able to spot that - and I've met a few at the big pension houses. It should be a red flag for them, not a licence to pile in. They have to think longer term than that.
  • SighthoundSighthound Shipmate
    I really do not care for the modern version of capitalism where we privatise profits and nationalise losses. It's immoral.

    In my view, if the government puts any money into a private company it should receive shares in exchange. These shares could form the beginning of a National Wealth Fund. There is currently way too much corporate welfare.
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