Thames Water loses ten-year sewage battle

Thames Water has lost a final appeal over fines for pollution offences that occurred in 2003

Thames Water has lost a final appeal over fines for pollution offences that occurred in 2003. It must now pay more than £400,000 in fines, costs and compensation for a series of sewage leaks into homes in south London.

A decision by Southwark crown court on 26 September followed many years of legal wrangling over whether sewage can be considered controlled waste.

In 2004 the company argued that escaped sewage should not be classified as controlled waste. But two years later the European Court of Justice ruled that escapes from the sewerage network were waste under the Waste Framework Directive (ENDS Report 389, p54). But it conceded an exemption might apply if national legislation achieved strong environmental protection.

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