Sewage: Waste Disposal

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15th November 2021.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many fines have been issued to each water company for discharging raw sewage into bodies of water years in (a) 2018, (b) 2019, (c) 2020 and (d) 2021 to date.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Environment Agency undertakes enforcement action in line with its enforcement and sanctions policy. Whilst the EA will always seek to prosecute for the most severe offences, it has a number of other enforcement options for lesser offences where offenders have shown lower levels of culpability, good cooperation and have responded positively to mitigate the pollution. For example, since 2018 the EA has used Enforcement Undertakings to secure over £8 million in payments from water companies to environmental charities to deliver environmental improvements.

In the period 2018 to 2021 there have been 11 successful prosecutions relating to pollution cases on the sewer network and storm overflows involving raw sewage. The number of prosecutions and value of fines for each year for each company are summarised in the table below:


Number of prosecutions with illegal water discharge activity offences involving raw sewage

Water Company and Fine



Northumbrian Water (fine £27,000) Thames Water (fine £1,800,000)



Anglian Water (fine £146,000) Severn Trent Water (fine £500,000) South West Water (fine £44,000) Thames Water (fine £607,000)



Anglian Water (fines £44,000 and £8,000) Severn Trent Water (fine £800,000)

2021 (to end of October 2021


Southern Water (fine £90,000,000) Thames Water (fine £4,000,000) Northumbrian Water (fine £540,000)

1 One prosecution in 2020 includes 2 separate cases against Anglian Water Services Limited sentenced in court on the same day

During this period there were also prosecutions of water companies involving partially-treated and treated sewage which are not captured in the table.

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