THAMES Water has been slapped with a £2.3 million fine after sewage poured into stream killing more than 1,000 fish.

The water company was brought before the courts over the 'foreseeable' pollution from a sewage-treatment plant in Henley.

The court heard sewage with high levels of ammonia was released into Fawley Court Ditch in 2016, killing 1,144 fish and other water life.

The Environment Agency found poor management at the Thames Water plant meant there was no adequate monitoring in place to manage the risk of pollution.

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It was also made worse by staff not responding to alarms signalling faults in the process, the court heard.

The first Environment Agency officer on site on April 23, 2016, could smell the sewage in the brown water. Another witness reported a number of dead fish and sanitary products in the stream, near to where the pollution occurred.

An investigation showed ammonia levels in Fawley Court Ditch were, at worst, double the permitted limits.

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The court heard faults at the plant included machines to reduce ammonia totals were not working, probes measuring process standards were out of order, and oxygen at the plant was found to be 'dangerously low' 24 hours before the incident.

Fish from 13 species died, including chub, gudgeon, dace, roach, perch, tench and pike. The stream took almost a year to recover, having lost almost all its fish to the pollution.

Sitting at Aylesbury Crown Court, Judge Francis Sheridan said Thames Water should have reacted to the warnings “long before” they did. He added the pollution and the events leading up to it showed “high negligence” by the company.

Environment Agency land and water officer Jackie Outhwaite added: "Thames Water could and should have prevented this pollution through better management of sewage-treatment.

"Our investigation found the risk of pollution was increased by a lack of measures in place to prevent it. Thames Water’s failure to respond to warning alarms ultimately led to significant harm on water quality."

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The water firm was fined £2.3 million at a hearing on February 26, 2021, and was ordered to pay the Environment Agency's costs of £87,944.

Thames Water pleaded guilty to one count of causing a discharge of partially-treated effluent into Fawley Court Ditch and Fawley Court Stream without an environmental permit between April 21 and 24, 2016.

The latest conviction brings the total amount of fines levied against Thames Water since 2017 to £24.4 million for nine cases of water pollution across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire.