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Manchester Ship Canal Company wins United Utilities court ruling over sewage leaks

Manchester Ship Canal Company wins United Utilities court ruling over sewage leaks

The company behind the Manchester Sea Canal has won a legal battle over sewage pollution in the region’s waterways.

The decision comes after a long-running dispute between the Manchester Ship Canal Company (MSCC) and United Utilities, which began in 2010. MSCC was initially blocked from taking legal action.




But today (July 2), it was confirmed that the company had managed to overturn the decision on appeal in the Supreme Court.

It has now been decided that ‘the owner of a canal or other watercourse has the right to preserve the quality of the water’. And this right is protected by common law.

READ MORE: ‘A sunny day in Manchester and sewage is being dumped into the River Irwell… a blight on our great city’

The ruling added: “The discharge of polluting effluents into a privately owned watercourse is an actionable nuisance at common law if the pollution interferes with the owner’s use or enjoyment of the property.”

This could pave the way for others to take action against water companies that release untreated sewage into waterways. Recent data has found that rivers in Greater Manchester are some of the worst impacted in England by sewage leaks.

The Croal and Irwell had sewage dumped into them almost 12,000 times in 2023, equating to 95 leaks per mile of water, according to Environment Agency figures analysed by The Guardian.