(Sharecast News) – United Utilities has been fined £800,000 by Britain’s Environment Agency after illegally abstracting 22bn litres of water from a vital aquifer in Lancashire and causing damage that “will take years to receover”.
The company conducted the illegal extraction from the Fylde aquifer during a period of dry weather in 2018 and caused enough damage to have negatively affected river flows, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.
It also led to a “significant decline in the water level available in the Fylde Aquifer”.
Aquifers are rock or sediment that hold groundwater collected in empty spaces underground. They help keep river flow at healthy levels for plant and fish life.
Companies are under strict limits on the amount of water they can extract. UK water firms are under increasing scrutiny over the release of sewage into rivers, streams and the ocean while failing to fix leaks and paying out billions in dividends to shareholders.
United Utilities was prosecuted at Warrington magistrates court and fined on Tuesday after the Environment Agency found the company had taken more water than its abstraction licences allowed in the Franklaw and Broughton borehole complex. The company paid out £300m in dividends to shareholders after its annual results in May and made an operating profit of £440m.
Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com