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Permission Granted in Anglian Water Bathing Water Quality JR

Meyric Lewis

The High Court has granted permission to apply for judicial review in Anglian Water’s claim concerning the Environment Agency’s classification of the quality of bathing waters in Lincolnshire at Cleethorpes, Humberston Fitties and Ingoldmells South beaches for the purposes of the Bathing Water Regulations 2013 – the regulations which transpose the provisions of the EU Water Framework Directive, Directive 2000/60/EC into UK law.

The foundation of Anglian Water’s complaint is that the EA downgraded the classification of the bathing water quality of those beaches from “excellent” to “good” despite the occurrence of “short term pollution” and/or an “abnormal situation” within the meaning of the Regulations caused by extreme and exceptional rainfall in June 2019.

In particular, Anglian Water complains that the EA based its classification of the water quality at those beaches based on samples taken on 12 and 13 June.

In June 2019, and especially over 10 to 12 June, there were periods of intense rainfall in Lincolnshire that caused widespread flooding and required evacuation of 600 homes.  The incident was described by the Met Office as “one of the most significant June rainfall events across Lincolnshire of the last 50+ years”.  The Met office also specifically recorded that “in parts of Lincolnshire around 2.5 times the monthly average rainfall fell from 10 to 12 June”.

Anglian Water therefore complains that samples taken in that period should have been excluded from their annual data set as provided for in the “short term pollution” or “abnormal situation” provisions in the Regulations.

The EA contends amongst other things that the local council’s failure to display the correct signage on the days in question (on beaches being lashed with torrential rain) prevents the operation of the “short term pollution” procedures in the Regulations, that an “abnormal situation” (not having been declared at the time) cannot be declared after the event and that exclusion of the samples in issue would not lead to the reclassification of the bathing waters in any event.

Permission has been granted on all grounds and the matter will go to trial in due course.

Meyric Lewis is acting for Anglian Water instructed by Steve Leader, solicitor for Anglian Water Services Limited.