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Wed Jul 10, 2024, 09:06 AM Wednesday

Private Water Company Runs TV Ad About How Much They Care; UK Govt. Bans It As Deceptive

A Wessex Water TV advert about its plans to tackle storm overflows has been banned as misleading because it omitted key information about its record on sewage pollution. The Advertising Standards Authority investigated after receiving a complaint about the ad for the supplier, which provides water to 1.4 million customers and sewerage services to 2.9 million people in the south-west of England.

The ad said Wessex was investing £3m a month to tackle storm overflows and featured a voiceover that claimed it was “building more storm tanks to increase storage” and “separating rainwater from sewage”, adding that “a better way, for our waterways, is already under way”.

The ASA said it had upheld a complaint that the advert, which aired in February, was misleading because it omitted significant information about Wessex Water’s environmental impact. It said the advert should not appear again in the same form, concluding “that the ad omitted material information and therefore was likely to mislead”. Wessex Water has been criticised for its record on sewage discharges by the Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, who has called for tighter regulation on water companies. In May 2023, Wessex was fined £280,000 by a Swindon court for supplying water unfit for human consumption for a three-week period in 2021.


The ASA last year upheld complaints about other water companies and ruled against two ads by Anglian Water Services after they omitted information about the company’s history of releasing sewage into the environment. It also upheld complaints against Severn Trent Water on the same issue. Separately on Wednesday, the ASA also ruled against Luton Rising, the owners of London Luton airport, over a magazine advert and poster on the London Underground that said: “If we miss our environmental limits, our expansion will be stopped in its tracks.”



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