Water companies face fines of up to £250 MILLION for dumping sewage in rivers and seas

Water companies that dump sewage in rivers and seas will face fines of up to £250 million, the new Environment Secretary has vowed, as part of plans to clean up UK waters.

The plan involves launching a formal consultation on lifting the current £250,000 cap for Environment Agency fines for water firms that breach environmental rules.

There has been growing public outrage in recent years at the volume of raw or partially treated sewage pumped into the UK's rivers and coastal waters.

Water firms are being criticised for not investing money back into the UK's outdated water infrastructure, with mounting pressure on ministers to intervene.

Thousands of customers with 11 water firms are set to set to see money slashed off their bills after fines of almost £150 million were handed out by regulator Ofwat.

The action was taken after suppliers failed to meet target areas such as water supply interruptions, pollution incidents and internal sewer flooding.

Thames Water and Southern Water performed the worst and will have to return almost £80 million to customers. 

It comes after sewage discharges, packed with faces-laden storm water, were pumped into coastal beauty spots along the south east of England. 

On Sunday, hundreds environmental campaigners took to Bexhill beach, in East Sussex, to create a human chain following a large discharge of sewage at the site. 

Protesters have also taken to the streets and beaches across the city of Portsmouth over the amount of sewage dumped in and around the Solent.

The main sticking point is Langstone Harbour, which has previously seen vast amounts of faeces-laden discharge being pumped out into the coastal beauty spot.