Waste water plants have been told they can discharge sewage without treating it properly because of chemical shortage caused by the Brexit-induced supply chain crisis.
The Environment Agency has issued new guidance to water and sewage companies, which are usually obligated to release effluent – or waste water – under strict conditions.
But now officials have said firms may not be able to comply with the normal conditions because of “the UK’s new relationship with the EU” which, along with the coronavirus pandemic, has sparked a chemical shortage.
NEW: Supply chain problems lead to Government/EA lowering regulations controlling discharge of effluent, when sewer/water cos suffer “shortage of chemicals” used to treat effluent “because of the UKs new relationship with the EU, Covid or other supply chain failures”… HT @JP_Biz pic.twitter.com/GWKbhHTszg— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) September 7, 2021
The new rules are set to apply until the end of the year “unless we extend it”, the Environment Agency said.
It added that firms should prioritise using the chemicals they have to treat effluent “which have the greatest potential to cause environmental harm”.
Firms have also been instructed to ensure discharges of sewage does not risk causing significant environmental damage or pollution.
+UPDATE+— Nick???? (@nicktolhurst) September 7, 2021
UK govt confirms that companies & organisations are allowed to dump untreated sewage now that UK has left the European Union. pic.twitter.com/uA7BH3zWJq
A government spokesperson told Sky News: “This action is strictly time-limited and there are robust conditions in place to mitigate risks to the environment.
“The most sensitive and high-risk watercourses will not be affected and any company planning to make use of this short-term measure must first agree its use with the Environment Agency, which will be checking compliance.”
The sewage industry is the latest victim of the supply chain crisis bedevilling British businesses.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon last week apologised to customers after its beer supplies became the latest casualty of the UK’s supply chain crunch.
The hospitality giant confirmed that it has seen supplies of Carling and Coors beer hit by the disruption, with some pubs not receiving deliveries.
Molson Coors, the brewer for both brands, said it has been “hit by the HGV driver shortage”, affecting its supply to some UK pubs.
Lorry driver and factory staff shortages attributed to Brexit employment rules and the pandemic have impacted supplies at rival firms including McDonald’s, Nando’s and KFC in recent weeks.