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Company fined over illegal fire hydrant connections in London

A leading infrastructure company has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds after being caught illegally connecting to Thames Water's network in Mayfair while carrying out re-surfacing work.

FM Conway Ltd, based in Sevenoaks, was caught on two occasions connecting to fire hydrants with illegal standpipes in September 2018 in New Bond Street and Cork Street. It was then caught by Thames Water doing the same thing two months later in Kilburn.

Speaking at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Michael Snow said this could have damaged the hydrants or reduced their pressure, putting the public at risk, and ordered the company to pay nearly £8,000.

Any organisation taking water from the network must obtain a licence from the regional water company and use an approved standpipe so the amount taken can be measured. Fire hydrants must also not be used when taking water for activities like street cleaning or drinking.

Each day, hundreds of thousands of litres are lost as a result of individuals and companies illegally connecting into Thames Water’s 20,000-mile network of pipes, with everything they take being classed as leakage.

Steve Johnston, Thames Water investigator, said: “Illegally connecting to a fire hydrant is incredibly irresponsible and we’re pleased the judge highlighted this.

“We’re working round-the-clock to reduce leakage and asking customers to save water as our population increases and climate changes, so it is completely unreasonable for companies to behave in this way.

“We’ll always look to work with companies to help them comply with the law but where lessons are not learnt we will take stronger action.”

Conway pleaded guilty to three offences under the Water Industry Act 1991 and was ordered to pay a fine of £4,950, costs of £2,750 and a victim surcharge of £170.

A spokesperson for FM Conway said: “We accept the judge’s ruling and recognise that the high standards we expect of our teams were not followed in these instances.

“Prior to the case being heard, we have already moved to put in place additional safeguards to prevent activity of this type occurring in the future.”

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Policy & Regulation
Tags: Thames Water , magistrates , hydrant

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