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Latest 06 March 2023

Environmental Charity, backed by Good Law Project, in the Supreme Court today

John Davidson Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

The water company, United Utilities, is being challenged in the Supreme Court today over its attempt to escape legal accountability for sewage dumping. The Environmental Law Foundation, supported by us, is intervening with the permission of the Supreme Court.

Back in 2018, United Utilities sought legal clarification on whether it could be sued for the sewage it has discharged into the Manchester Ship Canal.

The High Court ruled that United Utilities could not be subject to private legal action for the discharges.

We’ve previously written about how this decision closed off legal challenges by private individuals and businesses who are affected by sewage dumping.

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In effect, it leaves enforcement action down to the regulators to carry out. But, as we have seen, the Environment Agency and Ofwat are toothless following years of Government underfunding and inaction. 

Last year, we were given permission to intervene in an appeal by the Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSCC) to try and overturn the High Court decision. But the Court of Appeal, too, sided with United Utilities.

Now the Supreme Court, sitting in Manchester, will hear MSCC’s appeal over the next two days. 

Good Law Project is also involved in two other ongoing cases which aim to tackle the devastating impact of sewage dumping and agricultural pollution on our rivers, waterways and seas. 

We have a legal challenge against the Government’s lack of an appropriate action plan for combating sewage being dumped into our coastal waters and an appeal which aims to protect the River Wye Special Area of Conservation from farming pollution.

And we’re working on more challenges in this space.

If you care about sewage dumping into our waterways and coastal waters and would like to support our work to hold the Government and water companies to account, you can do so here.