Southern Water has been fined a record £90million for illegally dumping billions of litres of raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire.
They pleaded guilty to 6,971 unlawful sewage discharges between 2010 and 2015, which were found to be caused by “deliberate failings”, causing major harm to protected areas, conservation sites and oyster beds.
Treatment works were being deliberately run at less than half their capacity with treatment tanks kept full allowing them to turn septic. The discharges were likely to have contaminated shellfish, which were previously discovered along the south coast, risking causing norovirus to consumers.
The Environment Agency confirms that it has been the largest criminal investigation in its 25-year history, with almost all of the waters which received the raw sewage being covered by domestic and international environmental protections.