Pollution prosecutions cost water industry £1.3 million

Water companies have been ordered to pay over £1.3 million in fines and costs for water pollution offences since privatisation, according to an ENDS analysis of data held by the Environment Agency and its predecessor. Water companies dominated the prosecution statistics in the Agency's first year. Anglian Water was the most frequently prosecuted company, but Severn Trent had the highest level of fines.

The big ten water companies have long dominated the water prosecution statistics. In 1996, Severn Trent topped a polluters league table which included six water companies in the top ten places (ENDS Report 255, p 50 ).

The latest data, complete from September 1989 until the end of March this year, show that Severn Trent remains the most prosecuted company with 48 offences. Water companies have been prosecuted a total of 265 times and ordered to pay over £1.3 million in fines and costs since 1989 (see below).

The Agency assumed responsibility for water pollution prosecutions from the National Rivers Authority in April 1996. A league table of its water pollution prosecutions is headed by Anglian Water with eight offences (see below). Welsh, Severn Trent and Southern Water follow closely behind.

Severn Trent secured a particularly high level of fines following the pollution of a Welsh salmon river with acid in June 1995 (ENDS Report 259, p 38 ). The incident killed 33,000 fish and culminated in fines and costs of over £210,000.

The only firm in the league which is not a water company is AMEC Holdings, whose civil engineering subsidiary was prosecuted for three offences in north-west England.

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