Aylesbury's provider Thames Water declines to fund major £180m anti-sewage spill plan

Three of the biggest water companies in the UK made significant contributions to the major Government project
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Thames Water has not pledged any money towards a joint £180m scheme to tackle sewage spills in Buckinghamshire and other areas.

Six other water companies have all committed money to the fund, which will be spent over the next 12 months.

The Government said this week that the plan should stop more than 8,000 sewage spills polluting English waterways.

Thames Water is not involved in the major anti-sewage scheme (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)Thames Water is not involved in the major anti-sewage scheme (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Thames Water is not involved in the major anti-sewage scheme (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

But Thames Water – the UK’s largest water firm – was not among those paying into the £180m anti-pollution pot.

By contrast, Anglian Water will invest £50m, Severn Trent £41m and United Utilities £39m, all by April 2025.

Meanwhile, South West will spend £32m, Southern Water £10m and Wessex £8m.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said the cash was a ‘welcome step forward’ in pushing water companies for better performance and ‘holding them to account’.

He said: “The amount of sewage being spilled into our rivers is completely unacceptable and the public rightly expects action.”

The minister added: “This money will mean more cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence, and more specialist staff to detect and reduce spills.

“Today’s announcement builds on significant work by this government to protect and strengthen our waters with increased investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement action.”

One part of the plan outlined by the government is investment in AI systems to help manage storm loads.

The installation of thousands of new in-sewer monitors to check flows and spot blockages early is also planned.

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Another measure is the recruitment and training of specialist staff, and accelerated wetland construction programmes.

Although Thames Water has not contributed to this £180m scheme, the water company said in October 2023 that it planned to spend £18.7bn between 2025 and 2030, including investment in the water network.

The water company has been under fire for flooding in different areas of Buckinghamshire over the last couple of months.

Last week it apologised to customers ‘still affected by ongoing high-water levels and flooding in Amersham/Chalfont St Peter’.

Thames Valley storm overflows are currently discharging at several locations across Buckinghamshire, meaning there could be sewage in these sections of the watercourse.

This includes a current discharge into the River Chess at Chesham, which has been ongoing for almost two weeks, Thames Water’s real-time online map shows.

Other recent or ongoing discharges include Maple Lodge, which feeds into the River Colne and at Gerrards Cross into the River Misbourne.

There have also been discharges at Princes Risborough into Horsenden Stream and at Wingrave into the tributary of Rowsham Brook.

Thames Water has been approached for comment.