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Polluter must pay principle must be upheld

4 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Regional Development spokesperson, Raymond McCartney MLA commenting on the revelation that Water Services have been responsible for some 1500 pollution cases over the past five years, has said that the polluter pays principle must be applied to such a key public body.

Mr. McCartney said:

"The level of pollution caused by the Water Service over the last five years is not acceptable and cannot be easily set to one side.

"This information, which has come to light, reveals that despite the investment by Government to develop and modernise new wastewater treatment works, raw sewerage is still pumped into the sea along the North Coast.

"The problem lies not in the fact that investment is not being applied but that it is taking place on an ad hoc fashion. The required level of European compliance to ensure that people here have the highest confidence in the water quality and sewerage services needs to be enforced.

"At present Department of Regional Development is protected from prosecution for such incidents, yet there is no reason why the polluter pays principle should not apply to Water Services. The Department is guilty of trying to of side step the whole issue of crown immunity. Despite official claims that Crown immunity for Water Service is to be 'cease' the truth is that the current draft legislation will replace it with a form of Corporate immunity if the proposed Go - Co gets the green light in April this year.

" The spin which has been dished out to the public to build the case for imposing water charges has often been attached to efficiency, EC compliance, upgrading of network and so on, yet despite huge investment over the last number of years, Water Service have not met the conformity targets for waste water and sewerage.

"If a charging regime where in place, then no one should be under any illusion that it is the ordinary person paying these water charges that would be left to pick up the bill for such environmental incidents. The one organisation who would not be paying for such mismanagement - the new Water Company whose major shareholder is the Department itself. This news reaffirms the need to keep our public services in the hands of public ownership and to restore locally elected politicians to an incoming Assembly and executive, today." ENDS

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