Top marks for water firm's environment work

Water industry bosses in the North East have achieved the top rating for their environmental work – but still have work to do, say watchdogs.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 4:20 pm
Northumbrian Water's Richard Warneford
Northumbrian Water's Richard Warneford

Northumbrian Water says it is investing £700million to improve even further after the Environment Agency’s annual environmental performance report gave it an industry leading ‘four star’ rating for 2020, – an improvement on the two star (requires improvement) rating in 2019.

The two-star rating was mainly attributable to the firm’s poor performance for discharge compliance, which has improved from 96.6% to 99.4%.

It also went from two serious pollution incidents in 2019, to one in 2020.

Catherine Saxon, North East director for the Environment Agency, said: “We are encouraged to see improvements from 2019’s disappointing rating.

“While this report is progress on last year for Northumbrian Water, there still remains work to do right across the sector, especially on the use of storm overflows."

Northumbrian Water had 43 total pollution incidents in 2020 – a reduction on 2019 and was the best performing company for sewerage pollution incidents.

The company say 2020 saw it go above and beyond its regulatory commitment to the environment around water, with a dedicated team working to deliver improvements to wildlife and biodiversity, water quality and access for visitors.

Additionally, the company put special measures in place to make sure that its work to protect and enhance the environment were not affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Richard Warneford, Northumbrian Water’s wastewater director, said: “This Four Star rating – the highest possible – is a reflection of an incredible amount of hard work across the business. While we are rightly proud to maintain our industry-leading position on pollution, we will always strive for more and better.

“Since 2015, we have invested more than £400million in work that has benefitted the environment and our plan for 2020 to 2025 includes further investment of more than £700million.

“It’s fantastic to see the latest Environmental Performance Assessment recognise improvements in 2020, but we always know that more can be done and will work with the Environment Agency and others to deliver further improvements for our precious environment.”