A BUILDING giant has been ordered to pay more than £9,000 after admitting to repeatedly taking water from the network without consent in North Swindon.

Crest Nicholson pleaded guilty to eight charges at Swindon Magistrates’ Court after being caught illegally connecting to pipes at the Tadpole Garden Village development.

Any organisation taking water from the network must obtain a licence from the regional water company, Thames Water, and use an approved standpipe so the amount taken can be measured.

Crest failed to do this. On four separate occasions, street cleaners working on behalf of Crest Nicholson were found to have illegally connected their pipes to the same spot on Chatfield Road despite repeated warnings.

As a result, Thames Water was unable to say how much water had been taken.

While there was no suggestion Crest Nicholson contaminated the supply, authorised standpipes are also fitted with devices to stop flow back into the network.

Thames Water said it  lost hundreds of thousands of litres of water across its network to water thieves.

Investigator for Thames Water Stephen Johnston said: “Illegal water connections are something we take extremely seriously and we hope this outcome sends out a strong message.

“We’re disappointed it was necessary for us to take this course of action, as Crest Nicholson is a company we regularly work closely with on housing developments.

“We’ll continue to work with them in the future to prevent this from happening again.”

Crest pleaded guilty to four offences of connecting without consent and four of taking water in a way which could not be monitored – all under the Water Industry Act 1991. 

The company was fined £4,760 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500 as well as a victim surcharge of £66.

Following the case, a Crest Nicholson spokeswoman said: “We acknowledge the court’s ruling and have taken active steps to ensure this does not happen again, including updating our employee induction and site procedures to ensure all necessary permits are in place before any works commence.”

The first houses in the Tadpole Garden Village development were unveiled in 2014. Developer David Wilson Homes this month applied for retrospective planning permission for a sewage pumping station.