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Over 70 per cent water industry in Britain under foreign ownership: Report

LondonEdited By: Mukul SharmaUpdated: Dec 01, 2022, 10:15 PM IST
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(Image courtesy: @rnli_teddington) Frozen river Thames Photograph:(Twitter)

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By country, the US-based investment firms own nearly 17 per cent of overall English waters. Canadian and Australian companies are the second and third biggest overall investors in English water.

Over 70 per cent water industry in England is owned by foreign investment firms and businesses lodged in tax havens, a report said on Thursday. The report revealed at least 72 per cent of the industry is controlled by firms in 17 countries, while UK firms own 10 per cent.

By country, the US-based investment firms own nearly 17 per cent of overall English waters. Canadian and Australian companies are the second and third biggest overall investors in English water, The Guardian report said.

The report comes after calls by British politicians for the water industry to be held to account for sewage dumping, leaks and water shortages. A total of six water companies are suspected of illegal activities and are under investigation. 

The British government ordered companies to spend £56bn over 25 years to reduce the scale of raw sewage discharges into waterways from storm overflows, following which, pressures continue to rise on water industry to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure to treat sewage and prevent water shortages.

However, according to the storm overflow plan released by the government, the British public will pay on average £42 a year to foot the bill for reducing sewage discharges. But some customers will pay much more by up to three times because their companies have the biggest investment programmes to tackle storm overflows, according to the government.

The policy of water privatisation in England and Wales remains implemented since 1989. It refers to the transfer of the provision of water and wastewater services in England and Wales from the state to the private sector, through the sale of the 10 regional water authorities (RWA). 

The potable water supply as well as the sewerage and sewage disposal functions of each RWA were transferred to privately-owned companies.

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