UK’s Thames Water proposes spending more on environmental projects

By Thomson Reuters Apr 22, 2024 | 1:14 AM

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s Thames Water, which is fighting for survival, said it proposed spending an additional 1.1 billion pounds ($1.36 billion) on environmental projects over the next five years, in an updated business plan aimed at winning regulatory support.

The company is at risk of nationalisation as it struggles under the weight of its 16 billion pounds of debt, and was thrown into crisis last month when an existing business plan was branded “uninvestible” by its owners.

Under the new plan published on Monday, Thames Water, which supplies about a quarter of the British population, said the rise in expenditure would go on projects benefiting the environment and would come without a further increase in customer bills than the increase already set out.

While that may help win over the regulator Ofwat, the company also needs to win support from its shareholders, who in March refused to invest a 500 million pound equity lifeline.

Thames Water Chief Executive Chris Weston said the updated business plan focused on its customers’ priorities.

“We will continue to discuss this with our regulators and stakeholders,” he said in a statement.

The plan shows no change to the 40% hike in bills already proposed for the 2025-2030 period.

Thames Water has until June 12 to win approval for its plan under the deadline set by Ofwat.

($1 = 0.8077 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)