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Water company comes under fire from watchdog after 12 serious pollution incidents

PUBLISHED: 11:41 02 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:50 14 October 2020

Anglian Water has failed to meet Environment Agency standards, according to a report  Picture: MATTHEW POWER PHOTOGRAPHY

Anglian Water has failed to meet Environment Agency standards, according to a report Picture: MATTHEW POWER PHOTOGRAPHY

Matthew Power Photography

Anglian Water has been criticised by an official watchdog for failing to meet required standards on pollution – but the firm has vowed improvements have already been made.

Anglian Water's wetland at Ingoldisthorpe in Norfolk - part of the company's commitment to sustainability and the environment  Picture: TIM GEORGEAnglian Water's wetland at Ingoldisthorpe in Norfolk - part of the company's commitment to sustainability and the environment Picture: TIM GEORGE

The Environment Agency said four out of nine water and sewerage companies had fallen short – including Anglian Water, which was given just two stars out of a possible four for its performance, which means it is “requiring improvement”.

The Environment Agency said there were 12 serious pollution incidents involving Anglian Water last year – and the company had been prosecuted four times.

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East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire area deputy directors Simon Hawkins and Norman Robinson said they were working “very closely” with parties to ensure standards are met.

“Anglian Water are no different and it will be through close working and high levels of scrutiny that we achieve improvements,” they said.

“We are disappointed that Anglian Water is falling below the required standards we expect. As a result the company has dropped to a 2 star performance rating and improvement is required.

“We are taking a number of actions to toughen our regulatory action and challenge them to address areas where performance needs to be improved.

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“There were 12 serious pollution incidents involving Anglian Water last year. Action has been taken in some cases and others are still being investigated further.

“In the last 12 months (between Sept 2019 and Sept 2020), Anglian Water has been prosecuted four times and ordered to pay more than £198,000 in fines. In addition they also have paid £130,000 in Enforcement Undertakings.

“This demonstrates that where regulations are breached we will take appropriate action in line with our enforcement and sanctions policy.”

An Anglian Water spokeswoman said: “We’re disappointed to have recorded a two-star rating in 2019, but our Pollution Incident Reduction Plan has already driven a 20% reduction in pollutions this year.

“We’re investing more than £800 million improving the environment over the next five years – the largest programme of any water company. Technology is already improving our ability to monitor, predict and respond to incidents, giving us the visibility that means we prevent many more pollutions than we deal with.

“We take every incident extremely seriously, and we have one goal – zero pollutions. We will innovate, collaborate and invest until we get there.”

Severn Trent and Wessex Water achieved the highest level of performance with 4 star (industry leading), Thames, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water were rated as 3 star (good), Northumbrian, Anglian Water and South West Water were rated as 2 star (requiring improvement) and Southern Water was the first company to be rated as 1 star (poor) since 2015.

Environment secretary George Eustice and Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd will be holding meetings with all under-performing companies to discuss improving their poor performance.


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