Anglian Water: UK water firm 'disappointed' after fined £50k for not handing over records in 'first of its kind' case

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In the first case of its kind, Anglian Water has been fined £50k after being found guilty of not providing data to the Environment Agency.

Anglian Water Services Ltd was found guilty in May, of failing to comply with a requirement to provide records to the Environment Agency (EA) following a trial at Peterborough Magistrates' Court. The EA said the case came from a wider investigation into all 10 English water companies looking into possible breaches of their environmental permit conditions.

The agency said it was the first conviction of its kind against a water company and set a "precedent" for the regulation of non-compliant companies. At Peterborough Magistrates’ Court, the water company was ordered to pay a £25,000 fine, £190 victim surcharge and £25,000 in costs.

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Anglian Water said it was "disappointed" but insisted the "low level of sentence [reflects that] this was not a significant failure". The water company had entered a not guilty plea to the charge, claiming that it had a reasonable excuse for non-compliance. But a district judge rejected the water company’s claim.

The water company was initially charged in May with three counts of of failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a requirement imposed under Section 108 of the Environment Act 1995. It has only been found guilty of one.

In the first of its kind, Anglian Water has been fined £50k after being found guilty of not providing data to the Environment Agency. (Photo: Anglian Water)In the first of its kind, Anglian Water has been fined £50k after being found guilty of not providing data to the Environment Agency. (Photo: Anglian Water)
In the first of its kind, Anglian Water has been fined £50k after being found guilty of not providing data to the Environment Agency. (Photo: Anglian Water) | Anglian Water

Following the case, Anglian Water said it had been found not guilty of two more serious charges of failing to provide data. The company said: "In sentencing on the remaining charge, the judge has awarded a £25,000 fine that is proportionate and takes into account our arguments in this case.

"Anglian Water has always maintained, and the judge concurred, that our course of action and time taken to respond with data to the Environment Agency was reasonable. This was reflected in the fact that we were found not guilty of the two main charges. While we are disappointed with the finding in relation to the first charge, the low level of sentence reflects our view that this was not a significant failure on our part."

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An EA spokesperson said: “This is the first conviction of its kind by the Environment Agency against a water company and sets a precedent for the regulation of non-compliant companies. Since launching the investigation into Anglian Water Service Ltd’s compliance, the Environment Agency has served several statutory requirements for records on the company.

“Anglian Water Services Ltd has been convicted of failing, without reasonable excuse, to respond to one of these notices, served between dates in January 2022 and January 2023. Anglian Water Services Ltd had entered a not guilty plea to the charge, claiming that they had a reasonable excuse for non-compliance. Having heard the evidence in the case, District Judge Kenneth Sheraton rejected the water company’s claim.”

The spokesperson added: “The case against Anglian Water Services Ltd arose out of a wider investigation involving all ten English water companies looking into potential non-compliance with environmental permit conditions at over 2,000 wastewater treatment works. The Environment Agency hopes that today’s sentence will help the regulator to bring all water companies into compliance and reduce environmental pollution.”

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