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Business & Economy

Northumbria Water tops UK ratings as rivals warned to improve

A water supplier operating across the North East is the only UK company to achieve the Environment Agency’s highest service grade, according to a new report.

Northumbria Water has been given a four-star rating by the organisation for its commitment towards displaying good environmental practices.

The company’s performance is a stark contrast to its rivals, who have been warned to clean up their act following a deterioration in performance across 2018.

The annual report rates England’s nine water and sewerage companies as green, amber or red on a range of measures, including serious pollution, supply resilience, self-reporting and permit compliance.

According to its findings, overall water company performance fell in 2018, with serious pollution incidents damaging rivers and wildlife.

After highlighting Northumbrian Water’s four-star performance, the report revealed Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Wessex Water dropped from four stars to three stars, with Anglian Water and Thames Water remaining on three stars.

Companies with three stars must improve their performance to reduce their impact on the environment.

Southern Water, South West Water and Yorkshire Water were only given two stars, with the report describing the operators as demonstrating an ‘unacceptable level of performance.’

Dr Toby Willison, executive director of operations, warned firms need to make swift improvements.

He said: “Water companies need to clean up their act.

“People expect water companies to improve the environment, not pollute rivers, and ensure secure supplies of water.

“With only one exception, none of the companies are performing at the level we wish to see, the country expects and the environment needs.

“We will continue to challenge chief executives to improve company performance and we will take strong and appropriate enforcement action.

“Companies performing well have a positive ripple effect on the natural environment and communities in their regions.

“We want all water companies to meet the expectation of their customers, the needs of the environment and learn from the best practice that the leading company is demonstrating.”

Emma Howard Boyd, Environment Agency chair, added: “Companies should be reflecting on their environmental performance and long-term resilience.

“If this is poor, they should be asking themselves whether dividends are justifiable.”