We know that the natural environment is a very important issue for our customers and stakeholders, and it has therefore been enormously disappointing to see the sector’s performance in the spotlight recently.  

Our vision is to be the leader within our sector for environmental performance for our customers and communities - and we are pleased with our recent achievements:

  • Recently, we achieved the top four-star rating in the Environment Agency’s 2020 overall Environmental Performance Assessment, being one of only three companies to secure a ‘green’ assessment across all areas.
  • We are the industry leader on total pollution incidents and have consistently had the lowest number of incidents across the sector, while our pollution numbers associated with combined sewer overflows have fallen by over 95%.
  • Our work has also contributed to 33 of the North East’s 34 designated Bathing Waters achieving the top ratings of ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in Defra’s most recent classifications (in 2019).
  • This has all been achieved while offering our customers the lowest wastewater bill in England.
  • We also have an ambitious target to achieve net-zero status in relation to our operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2027.

However, we are not complacent, and we know that we need to do more to support the natural environment. 

Environmental compliance at Wastewater Treatment Works

In November, we, along with all other wastewater companies, were contacted by the Environment Agency (EA) and OFWAT in relation to environmental performance at our Wastewater Treatment Works. Our regulators are seeking specific information as part of a cross-industry investigation to check that we are compliant with our environmental permit conditions.


The water industry, EA and Ofwat have worked closely together to tackle the challenges presented by discharges through developing the Water Industry Natural Environment Programme (WINEP) with investment allocated in the Final Determinations of the 2019 Price Review.  During the current business planning period that goes up to 2025 we are installing new monitoring equipment, as agreed with Ofwat and the EA, and have been following a clear plan to address any issues that arise and continuously improve on our environmental performance.


The investigation is still at an early stage. We are responding to requests for information from our regulators and cooperating fully with that process. 


We will update our customers and stakeholders in due course as these investigations continue. In line with our continued commitment to environmental performance, we will work to resolve any issues that may arise.

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