Southern Water pleads guilty to all EA charges and announces job cuts
Southern Water has pleaded guilty to all 51 charges brought by the Environment Agency in relation to a series of incidents at wastewater treatment sites between 2010 - 2015; meanwhile the company will cut jobs to “meet the tough financial challenge” set by Ofwat.
Following an initial hearing before magistrates the case proceeded to Maidstone Crown Court where the plea was entered.
A Newton hearing is due to be scheduled in the autumn for both sides to present technical evidence relating to factual discrepancies that the court decided would make a difference to the sentencing process.
The charges include 46 counts of contravening the requirements of an environmental permit and five charges of causing poisonous / noxious / polluting matter / waste to enter controlled waters.
Last year the company was separately fined £123 million by Ofwat for non-compliance in the sampling processes and sample reporting.
In October the company was ordered to pay the amount in penalties and customer rebates following the regulator’s investigation into the company.
In a statement the company said it is “committed to being as open as possible about these historic issues”, adding: “The new management team at Southern Water is continuing to implement change and is committed to improvement.”
Improvements include £26 million being invested directly in Southern’s wastewater treatment sites and a further £800 million to be invested in the environment over the next five years.
Separately the company will be cutting jobs across the business as it prepares for the financial challenges of the next regulatory cycle, which begins on 1 April.
The job losses are understood to be fewer than 100 and will not affect frontline workers or services but will come from across the business.
A spokesperson said any staff impacted will be fully supported by the company.
“Over the next five years Southern Water is investing £3.2 billion across the region which will create jobs and benefit the local environment as well as ensuring a resilient water and wastewater network for the future,” the company said.
This article originally appeared in sister publication Utility Week.
By Ruth Williams
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