Yorkshire Water Pays £300k To Wildlife Trust For Pollution Incident
Utility company Yorkshire Water has paid Yorkshire Wildlife Trust £300,000 following a breach of its environmental permit that saw sewage discharged without authorisation from its Garforth Storm Tanks in Leeds in 2018.
The flows at Garforth are managed automatically, with a valve controlling and isolating the sewage to fill tanks during times of intense rainfall. In November 2018, discoloured water was identified in Kippax Beck, with an investigation revealing that the valve was fully closed and storm tanks were full and discharging into a local waterway.
Both the valve alarm and the storm tank sewage level alarms failed to function, so it appeared as though the system was operating as normal. The resulting impact of the pollution was widespread, affecting the beck and its wildlife for 3.3km.
The charity will use the donation to fund various projects at nature reserves in the Lower Aire valley. Yorkshire Water has also taken steps to make improvements, such as carrying out a review of alarms, replacing and repairing both machinery and equipment, and completing an environmental survey.
Ben Hocking, area environment manager with the Environment Agency, said: “When companies fail to meet their environmental obligations, it’s a serious matter and we will take appropriate action, which may include civil sanctions.
“Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement option to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements. This payment of £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will bring great benefits to nature reserves in the local area.”
This is not the first time that Yorkshire Water has come under fire for pollution incidents. Back in January, the company was fined £233,000 at Leeds Crown Court for polluting Tong Beck in November 2017. And last year, they were fined £150,000 at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court for a pollution incident at Potteric Carr Nature Reserve.
Unauthorised raw sewage discharges have been a hot topic over the last few months – and a new legal duty is set to be imposed on utility companies under the Environment Act 2021 to help tackle the issue of untreated sewage being dumped in watercourses around the UK.
In 2020, it was reported that sewage was discharged into rivers and streams more than 400,000 times over the course of the year, with 84 per cent of rivers and lakes in England failing to meet the government’s ecological targets.
If you discharge liquid effluent or wastewater into surface waters or into or on the ground, an environmental permit may be required. Wastewater includes polluting substances, waste matter, poisonous, noxious or polluting matter and trade or sewage effluent.
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