MEGA-RICH Thames Water have coughed up £80,000 in a civil sanction following yet another pollution incident.

The death of sticklebacks resulted in a voluntary payment… and that could have saved Thames Water millions in a court case.

TW  agreed pay £80,000 to the South East Rivers Trust after a sewer blunder allowed sewage to enter the River Shuttle in Greenwich, South East London.

They will also pay the Environment Agency’s full costs for the investigation of almost £20,000.

Around 20 sticklebacks  and hundreds of invertebrates died as sewage seeped over many miles of river.

But TW could have been hit with a huge court fine as just last month they were hit by a £2 million fine and ordered to pay EA costs of £80,000. That was the outcome in Oxford Crown Court after killing 146 bullheads at Idbury Brook.

TW also had a record £20.3 million fine two years ago for polluting various Thames tributaries.

The last yearly figures showed TW made a profit of £517.0 million from the year from March 2017 to March 2018.

City analysts believe the figure for the following 12 months will be down by as much as half for various factors – including regulatory fines.

Dead worms and sticklebacks in the River Shuttle near Greenwich.

Dead worms and sticklebacks in the River Shuttle near Greenwich.

Tackling the polluters

Former British barbel record holder and environmental campaigner Ray Walton made his views clear after the sticklebacks case was settled out of court.

Ray blasted: “It is worrying the EA aren’t prosecuting as the courts would surely have given a much larger fine out, especially considering this is one of many incidents for TW.

“TW will keep pollution while they get away with it with – this is hardly even a smack on the wrist.

“Courts have to get very tough on the rich firms or they will keep doing it.

“The fat cat directors should also be personally prosecuted and fines taken from their personal assets. Then we might see action.”

An EA spokesman said: “TW will make the £80,000 payment as a civil sanction, also known as an enforcement undertaking.

“Companies and individuals can make good some of the environmental damage they cause, including through a financial contribution to a local project.

“The EA must also be satisfied the polluter will make changes to its operations to prevent similar damage in the future.

“While agreeing to enforcement undertakings, the EA continues to prosecute organisations and individuals where evidence shows high levels of culpability and serious environmental harm.”

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