One in 10 pollution incidents in 2018 happened in East Devon, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 15:35 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 31 July 2019

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More than one in 10 South West Water pollution incidents in 2018 happened in East Devon, figures have revealed.

An Environment Agency (EA) report on the performance of water companies at managing pollution levels said South West Water (SWW) had a total of 98 incidents in 2018 per 10,000km of sewer.

A freedom of information request has revealed that 14 of those happened in East Devon.

Four of these incidents happened in Honiton - three of them over a 20 day spell in January 2018.

Axminster had four relating to the River Axe and the River Yarty.

Exmouth and Ottery St Mary had two each while Sidmouth and Woodbury had one.

SWW, which had the most pollution incidents in 2018 of nine companies across the UK, said it achieved the best wastewater performance last year but recognised there is still more work to do.

The environmental performance assessment rates each of the nine water and sewerage companies in England as either green, amber or red on a range of measures including pollution, supply resilience, self-reporting of pollution and complying with permits.

SWW was given a 'red' rating and a two-star score for performance - the highest is four stars.

The EA said overall water company performance across the country has deteriorated, reversing the trend of gradual improvements to the sector since 2011.

Responding to the report, Emma Howard-Boyd, EA chairman, said: "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."

A SWW spokesman said: "We have an action plan in place to continue to drive improvement, focussing in particular on further reducing those that have a minor of minimal impact on the environment - the only area where the EA assess that we are below the industry average.

"This includes continued investment in our monitoring capabilities, equipment, site upgrades and staff training.

"We are also working closely with our regional suppliers and universities to develop enhanced 'network intelligence' techniques.

"We have already demonstrated further progress 2019.

"We remain on track to deliver our 2020 targets."

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