Turf Farmer Claims £600k Loss Over Water Leak On His Land

by | Oct 2, 2023 | All Articles, Latest News, Water

Farmer Claims Water Leak Has Cost Him £600k As Severn Trent Water “Failed In It’s Statutory Obligation to Compensate”.

A recent article in Farmer’s Weekly claims a Derbyshire turf farmer has accused Severn Trent Water – one of the UK’s largest Water Companies – of failing to repair a leak on his land, leading to losses estimated at around £600,000.

Sean Goodwin, a director of Talbot Turf, a turf producer based near Derby, said that a 4ha field at Allestree has been out of production since August 2020 as a result of a dispute with the water giant.

What caused the issue?

The area of the field has been unsuitable to grow turf due to a burst underground water culvert which dates back to the Victorian era – and has subsequently lead to the land being unusable.

Although Severn Trent Water carried out repairs to the pipe back in March 2021, Mr. Goodwin has said the water company has failed in its obligation to reinstate the land correctly, which would mean it could be put back into production.

“Our inability to have this 4ha area as part of our turf production cycle is having a significant effect and causing financial loss to our company. It is also causing serious frustration and stress to company employees. We believe Severn Trent Water failed in its statutory obligation to compensate us to enable us to return that field back into production.” – Sean Goodwin

Mr Goodwin said the Water Industries Act clearly states the statutory obligation that is required by landowners and water companies to protect all individuals, but also includes a code of practice which facilitates land reinstatement to take place.

Total Disregard

But he accused Severn Trent Water of having a “total disregard” for the Act and failing to follow its own code of practice to reinstate the land following the repair.

Due to the water company’s inaction and the loss of revenue, Mr. Goodwin believes the costs to his company to be around £600,000. He  added;

“The longer this field is out of production, the longer this field is unable to generate any money and, therefore, our company’s costs continue to increase,”

Talbot Turf has been growing turf for more than 35 years and providing turf for the landscape industry, the general public, local authorities and the UK sports industry.

It has some notable clients and has previously supplied turf for use in the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff – the home of the Wales national rugby and football sides.

What Have Severn Trent Water said?

A spokesperson for Severn Trent Water told Farmers Weekly; “Those involved are working to reach a resolution and as this is ongoing, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment at this stage.”

Severn Trent Water is the UK’s second-biggest water company serving 4.3 million customers in England and Wales. The company recorded profits before tax and interest of £508.8m in the financial year to March 2022, up from £506.2m the year before.

“Our case is just a drop in the ocean for Severn Trent Water and we can see no reason, financially or otherwise, why they have failed in their obligation to pay us our statutory compensation,” Mr. Goodwin added.

Issues with Water Companies

Cases like Mr. Goodwin’s aren’t uncommon and the spotlight is firmly being placed on the water companies at the moment – particularly in light of the huge profits being posted. 

From situations like Mr. Goodwin’s, where there are issues with a crumbling infrastructure that is the best part of 150-200 years old, to the overflow of sewage in the nations waterways – the water companies are undoubtedly – and justifiably – coming under increased scrutiny. 

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