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Plaid Cymru demands powers to address the scourge of sewage in Wales’ waterways

07 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Craig Goch Reservoir Dam, Elan Valley. Picture by Adrian Farwell. (CC BY 3.0)

Plaid Cymru has renewed its calls for Wales to have full control over its water resources to address the problem of sewage in waterways, and to help reduce water bills.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for Climate Change and Energy, Delyth Jewell MS described the privatisation of water is a “failed model” and says the current legislative framework “doesn’t match Wales’s powers over water to our borders.”

This means that Wales lacks the ability to legislate to stop or control the transfer of water from Wales by private companies that are mainly based in England, but whose jurisdiction does extend into Wales, such as United Utilities, which owns the abstraction licence for the Llyn Efyrnwy (Lake Vyrnwy) reservoir.

While the Silk Commission recommended ending this anomaly, and matching Wales’s powers over water to its borders – as is already the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland – Plaid Cymru recently revealed that Welsh Ministers requested that the devolution of Water, as set out in the 2017 Wales Act, be delayed.

Today (Wednesday 7 June) Plaid Cymru is taking a debate to the Senedd that calls for Wales to have the full control over its water resources.

Genuine concerns

“At a time when water bills are rising, and the public have genuine concerns about sewage in our rivers and on our beaches, today’s debate could not be more important,” Delyth Jewell said.

“This is as much about urging Members of the Senedd to support our motion as it is about holding the Welsh Government to account for seemingly placing the transfer of powers on indefinite hold.

“The mechanism to trigger this transfer of power already exists – the Welsh Government need only put in a formal request, but since their request to delay this five years ago, they’ve provided no further clarification as to when this will happen, if at all.

“When the broader water system, which does not respect national borders, puts privatised, commercial companies alongside the Dŵr Cymru model – it’s the people of Wales that are losing out.

“Wales has a constitutional right to power over water, which would give us the means to address the problem of sewage in our rivers and seas, and tackle soaring water bills – and through Plaid Cymru’s debate, the Senedd has the opportunity to show their support for our calls.”


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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
3 months ago

It’s absolutely criminal that 6 years after powers over water in Wales passed to the Senedd the welsh labour govt continues to resist using those powers. You could be forgiven for thinking the Welsh labour party doesnt want Wales to have control over its own natural resources

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
3 months ago

There’s a very important point made here: “When the broader water system, which does not respect national borders, puts privatised, commercial companies alongside the Dŵr Cymru model – it’s the people of Wales that are losing out.” There are people, especially YesCymru strongly presenting the notion that water will become a sort of transparent liquid Gold. Plaid are much more nuanced and reasoned here, this important as we have to honest about what we are going to be both aiming to achieve and able to achieve. They acknowledge it’s a common catchment, but critically address the unfairness of a Dŵr… Read more »

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