BRADFORD'S Yorkshire Water has today achieved top rating in a review of environmental performance of the country's water and sewerage companies.

The latest annual environment report by the Environment Agency shows that five companies have achieved the four star rating, and in Yorkshire Water's case, this is the first time since 2014.

Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Wessex Water, also achieved four star rating, although for all of the top-rated firms, certain improvements are still required.

Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Wessex Water in particular have shown sustained high performance for most of the last five years.

However, Southern Water and South West Water were again the worst for environmental performance, rated as two star, while Anglian Water and Thames Water received three stars.

The report also highlights that, although there were improvements in 2020, none of the water companies achieved all the environmental expectations set out for 2015 to 2020.

These included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012 and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

Since 2011 the EA has used the Environmental Performance Assessment, which rates each company in England from one star to four star, for performance on environmental commitments such as pollution incidents and treatment work compliance. Where these commitments are not achieved, companies will face underperformance penalties, with Ofwat having new powers to levy fines from 2020.

In Yorkshire, Yorkshire Water showed improvements in 2020 and achieved the highest four star rating, an improvement from three stars in 2019 and two stars in 2018.

Yorkshire Water had 74 per cent fewer incidents per 10,000km sewer than in 2011 and incident self-reporting was 81 per cent, up from 73 per cent in 2019. It also went from seven serious pollution incidents in 2019, to three in 2020.

The Environment Agency is now looking for consistency in performance as their star rating has been inconsistent across the five-year period from 2016 to 2020.

Oliver Harmar, Environment Agency area director for Yorkshire, said: “It is encouraging that Yorkshire Water have improved and achieved the highest industry rating for the first time since 2014.

“However, there still remains work to do right across the sector, especially on the use of storm overflows. Clear regulatory targets and work to direct investment in the right areas has helped deliver improvements.

“We now want to see this sustained and to work with us, partners and communities to deliver a very high ambition for the water environment.”

Yorkshire Water said its four star rating was built on the Bradford-based firm's efforts to improve the performance of its assets and the increased use of data and technology to target and reduce pollution incidents across the region.

Ben Roche, director of wastewater at Yorkshire Water: “We’re pleased to have achieved a ‘four-star’ assessment from the EA. It is testament to the efforts of our colleagues who care passionately about the environment and Yorkshire and have played their part in our environmental improvement plan.

“However, we are not complacent and know there is much more we need to do, we continue to focus on the areas where improvement is required most and also to ensure pollution reporting and regulation is a consistent and high bar across the industry.