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Thames Water response to the pollution of the Gatwick Stream and River Mole

Tuesday 4th July 2023 13:00

Thames Water logo

Thames Water logo

Thames Water has today been fined £3,334,000 at Lewes Crown Court after pleading guilty to a pollution incident in West Sussex on 11 October 2017. 

Thames Water’s interim co-CEO, Cathryn Ross, and director of sustainability, Richard Aylard attended Lewes Crown Court for the sentencing of a pollution incident in West Sussex in October 2017.  

Cathryn Ross, interim co-CEO of Thames Water, said: “We are deeply sorry for the entirely unacceptable pollution incident into the Gatwick Stream and River Mole six years ago. The incident occurred due to the running of a storm pump in error. The pump activated when there was no operational need for it to do so. This had never happened on this site before and it has not happened since. 

“It should not have happened, and we deeply regret the incident. I would also like to express my sincere apologies for those aspects of our response to the incident six years ago that led to the finding that we misled the regulator. We fully accept that we made significant errors and exercised poor judgment at the time, and we are genuinely sorry for that. 

“To make up for the harm caused, so far as it is possible, we have made voluntary payments totalling £1m to three local organisations to fund projects including the development of a local catchment plan and carrying out fish passage and habitat works. 

“We have undertaken a full evaluation of this unacceptable incident and have learned the lessons.  

“We committed £32.9 million to a site improvement plan at Crawley. We have also implemented a number of other improvements to the site including: better staff training to improve responses to pollution incidents; upgrading the control system on site so we can see when alarms are triggered and can access real time and retrospective data. We have installed a monitor in the lagoon to alert staff when the lagoon is filling and when it reaches certain thresholds, and have installed Event Duration Monitors (EDMs) to monitor any discharges from the storm lagoon, which will assist in assessing whether the discharge is permitted or unpermitted. 

“We have said that any discharge of sewage into our precious waterways is unacceptable. The team at Thames Water is passionate about the environment and when something as devastating as this happens we feel it personally as well as professionally. We strive to do better and whilst we have a long way to go, we are making progress.   

“Earlier this year, we announced the largest ever upgrade of the sewers and sewage treatment works in London and the Thames Valley with plans to upgrade more than 250 of our sewage treatment works. This commitment builds on our recent pledge to double investment in sewage related infrastructure by spending £1.6bn over the next two years upgrading our sewage treatment works and sewers, an investment aimed at significantly reducing storm discharges and pollution incidents.”