A damning new report by the Environment Agency has slated two water companies that serve west Dorset – and suggests some water company executives should be jailed.
The 2021 environmental performance report on UK water and sewerage companies said South West Water has fallen to a single star rating, meaning their performance was ‘terrible across the board’. West Dorset MP Chris Loder also piled on criticism of the company, saying their one-star performance on environmental performance is ‘very disappointing’.
Wessex Water – who fell to an overall two-star rating – was also criticised in the report for performing ‘significantly below target’ on serious pollution incidents since 2020.
The report said: “We would like to see prison sentences for chief executives and board members whose companies are responsible for the most serious incidents.
“We would also like to see company directors being struck off so they cannot simply delete illegal environmental damage from their CV and move on to their next role.”
The report says Wessex Water requires ‘significant improvement’ overall, but it did praise the company for its record on self-reporting and data sharing.
The report said South West Water “continued to perform significantly below target” in several areas, including sewerage pollution incidents since 2015, complying with permits on sewage treatment and on balancing supply and demand. According to the report, South West Water was one of “only two water companies” in the country to perform “significantly below target” on the number of pollution incidents they have been responsible for since 2005.
South West Water was also slated for its lack of compliance with permits on discharging treated wastewater.
West Dorset MP Chris Loder said: “I have already made it clear during a summit I held with them – in no uncertain terms – that South West Water need to properly address the serious concerns about water quality within its remit. That it has come to this after so many repeated warnings is very disappointing.”
A SWW spokesperson said: “We are disappointed to receive this assessment for 2021 and this is not where we want to be. The investments and changes we are already making across our network are delivering real results, including a one-third reduction in pollution incidents last year.”
A Wessex Water spokesperson said: “Having been an industry leader for environmental performance for so long, we are very disappointed at this result for 2021.
“However, the Environment Agency did recognise that we had the lowest number of total pollutions for a decade and praised us for self-reporting potential incidents and meeting treatment works compliance.”