Environment pollution: Water firms' protection efforts 'unacceptable'

Just one water company in the UK is performing well on enviromental protection | Credit Thames Water

Just one water company in the UK is performing well on enviromental protection | Credit Thames Water

Environment Agency Chair Emma Howard Boyd, who has previously warned water companies they would face a tougher regulatory approach with increasing inspections, is pledging that the Environment Agency will continue to work with Ofwat to look at financial penalties to drive better environmental performance given fines are now only a fraction of turnover.

"There is no getting away from the fact that performance in 2018 was simply unacceptable", the report declares. The Environment Agency report said this improvement is to be applauded and that it had only been possible with focus from the top of the organisation and ongoing effort from operational teams.

He said: "We'll continue to work hard to reduce our environmental impact and, with around 35% of recorded pollutions on our network past year caused by sewer misuse, keep banging the drum about the damage caused by flushing wet wipes or pouring cooking fat down the sink".

The company is among those being "named and shamed" by the Environment Agency in their annual report.

Although the report assessed performance last year, Howard Boyd said nothing she had seen so far this year suggested any of the companies were making dramatic improvements.

Yorkshire Water has been given one of the lowest ratings in the country for its "unacceptable" environmental performance.

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Official data also shows an increase in "serious" pollution incidents to 56 previous year, with the rise marking a reversal of the gradual decline since 2011.

SOUTHERN WATER has been blasted for its "unacceptable" performance protecting the environment - less than two weeks since it was hit with a record £126m penalty for "reckless" mismanagement.

The EA assessment of the nine privatised water and sewerage companies in England said only one - Northumbrian Water - was performing at the level required.

Water suppliers must "clean up their act", the Environment Agency warned yesterday after a report revealed the firms' damaging impact on the environment.

South West Water was given a red rating for pollution incidents for "consistently demonstrating unacceptable performance", while Southern Water and Thames Water failed to demonstrate they had robust plans to maintain secure water supplies.

"We will continue to challenge CEOs to improve company performance and we will take strong and appropriate enforcement action".

"We remain on track to deliver our 2020 targets where we are aiming for zero serious and significant pollution incidents, a further reduction in other incidents and 100% compliance with wastewater permits".

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "Water companies have a responsibility to distribute our most precious natural resource, and must act as stewards of our environment".

On Tuesday the water regulator Ofwat announced measures that could restrict shareholder payouts if the companies were found not to be financially resilient. "We want all water companies to meet the expectation of their customers, the needs of environment and learn from the best practice that the leading company is demonstrating".

Anglian Water has been ranked at a level three for the second year in a row meaning that the company needs to improve the effect it has on the environment.

"As the Environment Agency acknowledges, the situation is never black and white".

"We will continue to work alongside the Environment Agency to achieve this".

"To our disappointment we suffered a small number of more serious pollution incidents during the year".

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