Isle of Wight supplier Southern Water has been named joint worst for environmental performance, in a report by the Environment Agency (EA).

Along with South West Water, the EA said their performance in looking after the environment had been “consistent unacceptable”.

The EA is calling on water companies to improve.

In its annual report, which has just been published, none of the nine English water and sewerage companies achieved all the environmental expectations set out for them from 2015 to 2020, PA reported.

While Wessex Water, United Utilities and Severn Trent Water were rated highest, Southern Water was listed among those failing to make significant progress.

The Environment Agency says England’s rivers are too polluted and said water companies still need to make and sustain substantial improvements.

Last week, Southern Water was fined a record £90 million for 6,971 sewage discharges into the rivers and off the coasts of Hampshire (into the Solent), Kent and Sussex, between 2010 and 2015.

On the Isle of Wight, it is currently six months into work to repair a collapsed sewer on Ryde Esplanade, which caused a sink hole in January.

In Alverstone last week, the main road was closed after problems.

Southern Water also recently moved to reassure Islanders that the Isle of Wight's supply would not be impacted by pollution in the River Test.

Water from the Hampshire river can sometimes be piped under The Solent and used for extra resources here.

"Failing in their duty"

Launching the report, Environment Agency chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd said: “Over half the water sector is now achieving the highest industry rating, showing that clear targets and regulatory focus combined with investment in the environment delivers change in the water sector.

“But, some companies are still failing in their duty to the environment and there remains a tendency to reach for excuses rather than grasp the nettle.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said the report made for extremely disappointing reading.

She said: “Getting the basics right is critical for water companies and then they need to go further in playing their part in achieving a higher level of ambition for our precious water environment.

“On these grounds I will not hesitate to set higher expectations for both water companies and regulators to ensure a level of service that the people of this country and the environment deserve.”

"Higher expectations"

Christine McGourty, chief executive of industry body Water UK, highlights the five companies in England achieving a four-star rating and said serious pollution incidents were at their lowest level.

She said: “This means that the majority of water and sewerage companies are now defined as ‘industry leading’ by their independent environment regulator, a significant step forward and a reflection of the commitment and focus that water companies place on protecting and enhancing the environment.”

From 2015 to 2017, Southern Water was given three stars for performance by the EA but, in 2020, it was rated 'requires improvement' and received only two.

In 2019, it got just one and was branded 'poor performing'.