LLast July, Southern Water was fined £90million after pleading guilty to dumping untreated sewage into rivers and coastal waters in Hampshire, Kent and Sussex. Oysters and shellfish could not be farmed, harvested and eaten, surf schools were hit and other businesses suffered as people were told to stay out of the dirty waters.
Prosecutors presented the largest investigation in the Environment Agency’s 25-year history as the agency consolidated offenses from 16 sewage treatment plants and one storm overflow. The fine imposed on the company was a record sum.
Southern Water filed 51 separate guilty pleas. They covered longstanding and widespread violations of environmental law. These included willful oversights that caused extensive damage to protected areas, nature reserves and oyster beds.