COMMENT: Southern Water has caused sense of confusion and fear

You'd think Southern Water would be doing everything in its power to avoid bad publicity right now.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 12:00 am

After all, this is the company that was fined £90m last year for 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges between 2010 and 2015.

Then just a few months later environmental campaigners were appalled after it was found to have again dumped untreated sewage into Langstone Harbour for 49 hours in a row.

Oh, and in 2019 Southern Water was fined £126m by Ofwat for regulatory breaches, with an additional £90m fine after pumping up to 21bn litres of untreated sewage into delicate ecosystems.

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But just when the company could really use some positive PR, it appears to have only succeeded in adding to people's annoyance.

We report today how it sent a letter to residents in Havant that left them fearing they could lose their homes.

People living in New Road, Mill Lane and Bidbury Lane were told their land may be ‘required’ for a pipeline route.

The letter referred to ‘Land Referencing’, which can form an early stage of a compulsory purchase order - a way bodies can obtain land or property without the consent of the owner.

Imagine reading that. No wonder residents such as Steve Restall were horrified.

For 10 days they fretted about the future - until a second, hand-delivered letter arrived stating that the original had ‘incorrectly’ said the company required residents’ land.

Southern Water apologised for any 'upset and confusion'. But is it any wonder that residents are still, as Steve says, 'worried sick' about any future pipeline route?

Southern Water should be trying hard to win hearts and minds.

Instead it has caused only confusion and fear.