Responsibility

We protect our environment

Acting responsibly and sensitively towards the environment and taking environmental issues seriously is key to how we are judged as a company and as an industry. Our environmental responsibilities extend far beyond the treatment of water and waste water to keep our rivers clean. We aim to play a leading role in promoting water as a vital resource, mitigate our environmental impact and to work with suppliers and partners to achieve this. It is also important that we engage constructively with regulators and other stakeholders to ensure a sustainable water industry. In our CR report, we focus on preventing pollutions and reducing our carbon footprint.

Read our environment policy for more information.

Cleaning waste water means that we have to deal with unpleasant or dangerous substances that, if discharged to a watercourse untreated, could cause a serious pollution event. In 2015 we had two serious pollutions. This is a significant improvement on our 2014 performance where there were eight serious pollutions. This reduction has been achieved through continued investment in high risk assets, improving our operational processes and investigating third party sources of pollution entering our network. Our highest risk of pollution continues to be sewer blockages, resulting in sewage entering watercourses. In 2016, we will be installing over 500 monitors at high risk locations to detect the formation of blockages, in order to proactively resolve the issue before a pollution is caused. Our goal is to have zero serious pollutions (Environment Agency Category 1 or 2) by 2019. We have been awarded an environmental performance rating of 4* by the Environment Agency.

We are reducing our carbon emissions year on year, primarily by being more energy efficient and generating more renewable energy. We’ve seen a consistent reduction since 2002 when we began publicly reporting on our greenhouse gas emissions.

We have held the Carbon Trust Standard since 2009 in recognition of consistent emission reductions and effective carbon management processes. Our performance against the standard is in the top 15% of all organisations. We have seen a year on year improvement in our Carbon Disclosure Project (‘CDP’) score. CDP request information about climate change from companies each year on behalf of investors and score each company on the quality and completeness of their responses. This year we were recognised in the carbon disclosure leadership index for the first time (99/100), for demonstrating a considerable improvement from our previous CDP submission (2014: 85/100). This is largely due to our updated climate change risk assessment and the adaptation action report.

During the year, we increased renewable energy generation from food waste, energy crop, sewage sludge, wind and solar power. Generating an equivalent of 33% of Severn Trent Water Limited’s electricity needs, we continue to lead the UK water industry, with an aim of building on this position by generating the equivalent of 50% of our electricity needs by 2020. For more information see our Business Services performance review on pages 36 to 40. Over the long term we aim to reduce our carbon emissions and increase our renewable energy generation. We plan to continue to reduce our emissions within Severn Trent Water Limited by a further 5% between 2015 and 2020, primarily by reducing our energy use and to continue to increase our renewable energy generation mainly within Business Services. Pursuing these measures will continue to reduce our key sources of emissions, reduce our reliance on the electricity grid and bring financial benefits for our customers and investors.

To find out more information about our approach to the environment please click here.

Case Study: Climate change adaptation - future proofing

Every five years we conduct a thorough analysis of the risks that climate change poses to us and our adaptation actions. To deal with these risks, we are investing to improve our resilience, including £300 million in a scheme to provide an alternative water supply to Birmingham.