Anglian Water Services Ltd will be paying £100,000 to a local charity Rockingham Forest Trust to make amends for discharging crude sewage into the Willow Brook in Corby.
The company has also agreed to undertake site improvement works, and will pay the Environment Agency costs as part of a civil sanction called an Enforcement Undertaking (EU).
The pollution occurred on 21 June 2014, when crude sewage was released into the Willow Brook in Corby, Northamptonshire. This sewage resulted in pollution along 6 kilometres of the brook, leading to numerous reports of discoloured water as well as the death of up to 500 fish.
Upon inspection Environment Agency officers found that this pollution originated from Corby Water Recycling Works, which is owned by Anglian Water Services. Anglian Water had been aware of a serious problem at the Corby site since 3pm on 21 June, but failed to notify the Environment Agency until officers of the EA came to the water recycling centre in the evening.
Following the incident, Anglian Water agreed under the terms of an EU to make a financial contribution of £100,000 to Rockingham Forest Trust, a local environmental charity which manages areas including the water environment in the Nene Valley.
Anglian Water also made improvements to the site to prevent similar incidents recurring in the future, and paid £14,834.10 in costs to the EA.
Along with prosecutions, the Environment Agency uses enforcement notices, stop notices and civil sanctions to either improve performance or stop sites from operating. It is making better use of the wide range of measures that are available to bring sites back into compliance as quickly as possible.
The Environment Agency’s use of civil sanctions is in line with recent legislation extending their availability for more offences.
Civil sanctions such as these can be a proportionate and cost-effective way for businesses to make amends for less serious environmental offences.
Yvonne Daly, Environment Manager with the Environment Agency, said:
We will always take forward prosecutions in the most serious cases. However, we felt the Enforcement Undertaking was the most appropriate sanction in this case.
We felt it to be a more proportionate response that would benefit the environment – achieving more than if the company had been convicted and fined.
The Enforcement Undertaking requires Anglian Water to:
- Make a donation of £100,000 to the Rockingham Forest Trust
- Make improvements to site operations
- Pay Environment Agency £14,834.10 in costs
Failure to comply with an EU may result in the offender being prosecuted for the original offence. Details of Enforcement Undertakings accepted by the Environment Agency can be found on our website here.
Notes to editors:
On 21 June 2014, Anglian Water Services Ltd put sewage effluent into waters containing fish, namely the Willow Brook in Corby, Northamptonshire, to such an extent as to cause the said waters to be poisonous or injurious to fish or the spawning grounds, spawn or food of fish. This was contrary to Section 4(1) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.
This Enforcement Undertaking was accepted on 29 November 2016.