Yorkshire Water’s chief executive, Nicola Shaw, has issued an apology for the company’s failure to address sewage discharges into the county’s waters in a timely manner.

However, Green Party councillors on Bradford Council have expressed their dissatisfaction, stating that the apology falls short and that Yorkshire Water should be apologising for charging customers for services that were not delivered.

Shaw’s apology acknowledged the prolonged delay in developing a plan to tackle the issue of sewage discharges. She also outlined plans for investment aimed at modernising the sewer network. However, Green Party councillors have highlighted that the costs associated with this investment will ultimately be borne by households through increased bills.

Councillor Celia Hickson, Deputy Leader of the Green Party Group and representative of Tong Ward expressed disappointment with the apology, describing it as insufficient given the long-standing problem of raw sewage being dumped into rivers within the district.

Hickson added, “What’s worse is that this apology is a cover-up for the fact that households across Yorkshire will be burdened with the enormous costs of rectifying the mess created by Yorkshire Water. For years, Yorkshire Water has neglected infrastructure investment while channelling profits to its predominantly international bank shareholders.”

Hickson further emphasised that families across Yorkshire are already struggling with rising expenses and will now face additional increases in water bills. She criticised this situation as a crisis driven by greed, asserting that it is unfair for Yorkshire households to bear the financial burden of cleaning up the rivers, rather than the government or the businesses responsible for the situation.

The Green Party has gained traction in recent local elections and now holds eight seats on Bradford Council, making it the third-largest party. Among the newly elected Green Party councillors is Janet Russell, representing the Craven Ward, which encompasses both the Aire and Wharfe valleys.

Councillor Russell expressed concerns shared by residents regarding the environmental damage caused by Yorkshire Water. She called for a collective apology to all water bill payers, as they have been paying for a service that has not been adequately provided.

Russell criticised Yorkshire Water’s attempt to impose additional costs on customers, stating that it is the government’s responsibility to take action. She urged the government to compel water companies to bear a larger portion of the financial burden and to empower regulators with the necessary authority to monitor them effectively.