THAMES Water faces paying its record fine after polluting the River Thames with more than a billion litres of raw sewage, a judge has warned.
The utility's punishment for pumping massive amounts of unfiltered effluent into the water in 2013 and 2014 has to "get the message home" that they have to protect the environment, Judge Francis Sheridan said.
At a sentencing hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court he said that the discharges totalling 1.4 billion litres in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire had destroyed local angling and fishing businesses and left farmers with sick animals.
After the court heard that Thames's record fine for pollution was £1m paid in January 2016, Judge Sheridan said: "The fine in this case is certainly in excess of that."
He added: "I have to make the fine sufficiently large that they (Thames) get the message.
"Alarms going off for days on end, certainly for more than 24 hours.
"Poor quality equipment.
"The anglers are put out of business, the fishermen are put out of business, the farmers' cattle are poisoned by the water.
"That is why the fine has to be sufficiently large to bring home to Thames Water: 'start to comply'."
The record fine for any water company is £2m paid by Southern Water for an incident in Margate, Kent, over the Jubilee Weekend in 2012, the court heard.
Thames Water admitted environmental charges at an earlier hearing over discharges from sewage treatment works in Aylesbury, Didcot, Henley and Little Marlow, and a pumping station at Littlemore.
The judge indicated on Friday that he is unlikely to hand down sentences until Tuesday.