Thames Water has been hit with a record fine and costs of more than £20 million for sewage leaks.
It is said to be the largest ever fine to be handed down to a water utility for an environmental incident.
The fine imposed is for six separate cases, which caused “widespread, repeated, sustainable and avoidable pollution” at a number of sites from 2012 to 2014, according to the Environment Agency.
The facilities involved were at sewage treatment sites in Aylesbury, Didcot, Henley, Little Marlow and Arborfield as well as Littlemore sewage pumping station.
The Environment Agency adds Aylesbury Crown Court heard how for weeks, untreated sewage, amounting to “millions of litres per day”, was diverted to the rivers and away from the treatment process.
His Honour Judge Sheridan, condemned the “disgraceful conduct” of Thames Water, which he said was “entirely foreseeable and preventable.”
Steve Robertson, Chief Executive of Thames Water said the company “deeply regrets” the incidents.
He added: “We asked for these incidents to be considered and sentenced together because it was clear that our performance in this part of our region, at that time, was not up to the very high standards that we and our customers expect.
“Since then we’ve reviewed how we do things at all levels and made a number of key changes. These have included increasing the numbers of staff in key operational roles and investing heavily to improve reliability. As a result, our performance has significantly improved.”
Thames Water will be adding £1.5 million to its Community Investment Fund, ring-fenced for projects to improve the river, its wildlife and surrounding environment at the affected locations.”