Anglian Water pays £154,000 fine after sewage discharged into the River Til in Bedfordshire


One of the UK’s biggest water companies has been hit with a £150,000 fine after sewage was released into a river, in the first civil sanction of its kind in England.

In 2018 contractors unblocked a sewer in Yielden in Bedfordshire which caused a small rural water recycling Centre to become overwhelmed and resulted in sewage being discharged into the River Til.

The impact to the river was limited to 660 metres, but ammonia levels were high, said the Environment Agency.

Dissolved oxygen was also depressed to a level likely to impact fish but there was no evidence of any dead fish or invertebrates.

The Environment Agency said: “Anglian Water reported the pollution to the Environment Agency and took action to clean it up.

“Other measures were taken to prevent a similar incident happening in the future.”

The Environment Agency imposed a Variable Monetary Penalty (VMP) on Anglian Water of £150,000 and costs of £4,428.33 – the first time a water company in England has paid a VMP in relation to a pollution incident.


A VMP is a type of civil sanction that the Environment Agency can impose for certain offences where it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

Jeremy Hay, senior environment officer at the agency, said: “Polluters should always be held to account, and, as much as our resources allow, we will always investigate significant pollution incidents and bring those responsible to justice.

“It’s vital that future civil sanctions are not only proportionate but also an effective deterrent to all who pollute our rivers and waters.

“If members of the public are concerned about pollution, they should call our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

In April the firm was fined over £2.6m for allowing sewage equivalent to three Olympic-sized swimming pools to flow into the North Sea.

Anglian Water pleaded guilty to discharging 7.5 million litres of sewage at Jaywick Water Recycling Centre in Essex between June and July 2018, the Environment Agency said.

The firm was ordered to pay a total penalty of £2,666,690.09 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court – the biggest ever fine imposed for environmental offences in the East of England.

Source:  ITVX 29th June 2023