Oxfordshire Greens have described a £4 million fine levied against Thames Water as “a drop in the ocean” and called for a wholesale review of our water companies to ensure real investment in infrastructure doesn’t come at the expense of the public.

Thames Water have been fined £4 million at Aylesbury Crown Court for a pollution incident in 2016 which saw raw sewage spill from a manhole and into streams in Botley for an entire day.

The fine was handed down at Aylesbury Crown Court with the judge describing the incident as “disgraceful”.

Cllr Jo Robb, South Oxfordshire’s Thames Champion, said: “This incident is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sewage discharges.

"What we are seeing is simply the inevitable result of decades of under-investment in our sewerage infrastructure and the complete failure of OFWAT to regulate a privatised water industry that routinely assumes streams and rivers are an acceptable dumping ground.”

Katherine Foxhall, Chair of South and Vale Green Party, added: “It shouldn’t take five years for these incidents to be resolved. We desperately need a wholesale reform of the water sector to make sure that profits go into investment rather than the pockets of foreign shareholders, that regulators have the necessary resources to hold companies to account, and that costs of failure are not met by the consumer.”

“Until polluters are really made to pay, our water companies will simply regard fines like these as a minor business expense, not a deterrent or an incentive to do better.”

Raw sewage was dumped into rivers in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency, where Botley is situated, for almost 2,500 hours last year, according to The Rivers Trust.

Thames Water spilled raw sewage into the Seacourt stream 27 times in 2020.

Cllr Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for climate change said that “with increased precipitation caused by climate change, we can only expect pollution incidents to increase. Our sewerage infrastructure is woefully underprepared for climate change. Investment is needed now.”