Dec 4, 2023

Water firm wrongly downgraded pollution events, documents suggest

Leaked documents suggest one firm, United Utilities, wrongly downgraded dozens of pollution incidents in north-west England last year. Whistleblowers at the Environment Agency claim the company has been wrongly downgrading pollution incidents and that the agency is failing to conduct independent checks. From 2020 through to the end of 2022, there were 931 reported water company pollution incidents in north-west England, and the Environment Agency only attended six. The Environment Agency insider said it was a serious incident, and that a huge volume of polluted material had been pumped into a water body: "The water company don't want us to attend and then an incident like this gets downgraded to a low level or, effectively, gets kept off the books." United Utilities says it is false to suggest it misreports pollution incidents and that the final categorisations are decided by the EA. "We work extremely hard to get on top of pollution and we're extremely proud of our performance," said Mr Garth.

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