Chicken-processing firm roasted over water use

17th September 2012

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Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Prosecution ,
  • Procurement ,
  • Manufacturing



Moy Park has been fined £12,000 for twice exceeding the limit of its water abstraction licence at its Anwick factory in Lincolnshire, after the Environment Agency refused to increase the abstraction allowance

The poultry-processing firm, whose brands include Jamie Oliver’s ready-to-cook chicken products and Castle Lea, pleaded guilty to removing 119,000m3 more water than it was allowed to do under its licence during 2010/11, but denied the breach was deliberate.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court was told the over-abstraction, which equated to 17% of Moy Park’s annual 700,000m3 allocation, was the result of careless record keeping and a failure to check water usage against its permit.

The firm then breached its licence again the following year, extracting an additional 2% above its permitted allowance. The agency, however, said that Moy Park was aware of the limits of its licence, having had its application to extend the amount it could abstract refused in 2009, and that the firm should have bought additional water from the mains supply.

The extra water Moy Park used in 2010/11 would have cost more than £24,500.

The case highlights the agency’s tougher stance on protecting water resources. “In the past, water wasn’t such a big issue for government bodies, but under the Water Framework Directive, and with droughts on the increase, the agency is much better informed and in control,” said Simon Colvin, senior environmental lawyer at Pinsent Masons.

“It will be increasingly difficult for organisations to increase abstraction thresholds or to even get a new licence. And with ongoing water shortages we are likely to see more prosecutions like this.”

Under proposals in the draft Water Bill, abstraction licensing will be included within the environmental permitting regime, which will mean tougher penalties for breaches in future, said Colvin.

“The move means water abstraction breaches will be subject to civil sanctions that will enable the regulator to counter any financial benefit gained by illegally extracting water,” he commented.


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