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A water company has been fined a total of £1.2 million for allowing pollution to spill into waterways and kill wildlife in the east of England, the Environment Agency has said.

Anglian Water was ordered to pay £1,221,000 after it admitted causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter inland freshwaters without an environmental permit, in two court cases.

This included a £871,000 fine over a string of maintenance failures which caused pollution in Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire between May and September 2019.

Serious pollution is a serious crime and I welcome these sentences from the courts

Sir James Bevan, Environment Agency

After one incident, a biological survey showed dead aquatic invertebrates over an area of 1.5km, the Environment Agency said.

The court also heard how at one site an unchecked build-up of “unflushables” such as cotton buds and sanitary pads caused a blockage, which led to a discharge of sludge seeping into treated sewage.

This was due to Anglian Water failing to implement alternative cleaning methods after a screen to prevent blockages at the site was removed in 2018.

In a separate court case, the utility company was ordered to pay £350,000 after a 1.5km-long sewer at Bourn Brook at Caldecott, Cambridgeshire, burst for the sixth time since 2004.

Some 4km of the watercourse was affected for at least five days, and the court found that Anglian Water had again been too slow to implement mitigation measures.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said the body will continue to push for “the strongest possible charges” for polluting water companies.

He said: “Serious pollution is a serious crime and I welcome these sentences from the courts.

“The Environment Agency will pursue any water company that fails to uphold the law or protect nature, and will continue to press for the strongest possible penalties for those which do not.”

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