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Southern Water admit more than 50 pollution charges in Kent and Hampshire

Southern Water was in the dock this morning and admitted more than 50 pollution charges in Kent and other areas.

Its barrister Richard Matthews QC entered the guilty pleas on 51 charges which cover a six-year period dating from 2010.

A Southern Water Pumping Station. Stock picture: Peter Still
A Southern Water Pumping Station. Stock picture: Peter Still

Judge Adele Williams allowed the indictment to be signed by the lawyer rather than have every charge read out at Maidstone Crown Court.

The case is now expected to be heard by High Court judge Mrs Justice Philippa Whipple and involves more than 8,000 sewage breaches at seven treatment plants in the county.

The company, which is responsible for collecting and treating wastewater in Kent as well as several other counties, admitted the breaches between 2010 and 2015.

The pollution offences involve the Eastchurch Wastewater Treatment Works on the Isle of Sheppey, Swalecliffe Wastewater Treatment Works, and plants at Queenborough, Sittingbourne, Herne Bay, Teynham and the Diamond Road Combined Sewer Overflow in Whitstable.

They also face charges in relation to plants in Hampshire and all carry financial penalties.

The treatment works at Swalecliffe (31336957)
The treatment works at Swalecliffe (31336957)

Southern Water faces 46 charges of contravening the requirements of an environmental permit and five charges of causing poisonous/noxious/polluting matter/waste to enter controlled waters.

A spokesman for the company said at an earlier hearing: "In June 2019 we announced that the Environment Agency was investigating the company for possible permit breaches at some of our wastewater treatment works.

"We will be as open and transparent as possible and are committed to cooperating to ensure a speedy conclusion and resolution of the case.

"The charges cover historic events alleged to have taken place between 2010 and 2015.

"Since he joined in 2017, chief executive Ian McAulay has been driving thorough internal reviews of our wastewater business and is leading a major transformation programme."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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