Thames Wa­ter fined £8.6m for miss­ing its leak­ing pipes tar­get

Harefield Gazette - - News -

THAMES Wa­ter has been fined £8.6m af­ter miss­ing its leak tar­gets.

The com­pany sup­plies wa­ter to house­holds in west London, as well as sew­er­age ser­vices for the rest of the county.

Ear­lier this year a ri­val com­pany warned cus­tomers to save wa­ter amid fears of a short­age.

Af­ter a year of “chal­lenges”, Thames Wa­ter’s profits have crashed 86%.

The com­pany said it missed its tar­get for cut­ting leaks by 47 mil­lion litres a day af­ter a se­ries of high-pro­file burst wa­ter pipes in London last year. Reg­u­la­tor Ofwat said the £8.6m fine was the max­i­mum al­lowed and “can­not be passed on to cus­tomers”.

Cathryn Ross, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ofwat, said: “The fail­ure by Thames Wa­ter to meet the leak­age com­mit­ments it has made to its cus­tomers is un­ac­cept­able.

“Our per­for­mance com­mit­ment regime im­poses sig­nif­i­cant pe­nal- ties for fail­ure to de­liver the lev­els of per­for­mance that cus­tomers have paid for and, con­se­quently, Thames Wa­ter will now face the max­i­mum penalty.”

The group was hit with a record £20m fine in March for al­low­ing 1.4 bil­lion litres of raw sewage into the River Thames be­tween 2012 to 2014.

Bri­tain’s big­gest wa­ter com­pany saw pre-tax profits slump to £71.1m for the year to March 31 from £511.2m the pre­vi­ous year as it was hit by higher costs and losses on the value of its own debt.

On an un­der­ly­ing ba­sis, op­er­at­ing profits fell sharply - down 18% to £605m.

Its an­nual re­port re­vealed that re­cently hired chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Robert­son picked up a £54,000 an­nual bonus de­spite the gloomy set of re­sults.

Thames Wa­ter said the po­ten­tial bonus was trimmed as a re­sult of the firm’s per­for­mance. His to­tal pay stood at £460,000, in­clud­ing the bonus and a pro-rated £550,000 an­nual salary af­ter tak­ing on the top job in Septem­ber last year.

Thames Wa­ter re­vealed that it caused 315 pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents in 2016 – higher than last year but be­low its 340 tar­get.

The group added that it re­ceived an £8.6 mil­lion reg­u­la­tory penalty for missed leak tar­gets.

Mr Robert­son said: “We fully ac­cept our re­spon­si­bil­ity for our legacy is­sues and our fo­cus now is to en­sure re­silience in our pro­vi­sion of es­sen­tial ser­vices and de­liv­er­ing max­i­mum value for our cus­tomers.”

He added: “Although we faced chal­lenges dur­ing the year, the un­der­ly­ing per­for­mance of the busi­ness last year was sound.”

Aus­tralian group Mac­quarie sold its last re­main­ing stake in Thames Wa­ter ear­lier this year, end­ing more than a decade of in­vest­ment in the util­ity gi­ant.

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