Six water firms to face legal action over alleged pollution underreportig
Six water companies are facing legal action over allegations they underreported pollution incidents – and overcharged customers.
If the lawsuits are successful, the firms could be forced to pay out more than £800million to over 20 million customers.
Severn Trent Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Anglian Water, Yorkshire Water and Northumbrian Water have all been accused of failing to accurately report the amount of sewage being dumped into UK waters.
Professor Carolyn Roberts, an environmental consultant, also alleges they broke competition laws and misled the Environment Agency and regulator Ofwat.
She said: “I’ve viewed with horror stories regarding the volume of sewage discharged into our waterways and onto our beaches.
“Because of the serial and serious under reporting at the heart of these claims, water companies have been avoiding being penalised. I believe this has resulted in consumers being unfairly overcharged.”
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Leigh Day Solicitors will first take Severn Trent Water to the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Claims against the other firms will be issued in the coming months. If successful, customers could be entitled to claim compensation. And lawyers expect it to be paid by the firms – not by raising bills.
But trade body Water UK said the claims are “entirely without merit”. It added: “The regulator has confirmed over 99% of sewage works comply with legal requirements.”
The Environment Agency said it is “unequivocal” that water companies must deliver “improvements in water quality”.
It added: “We also lead on environmental prosecutions..and serious misconduct will lead to criminal charges for the industry.”
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