In court: February 2016

11th February 2016


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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Transport ,
  • Waste

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IEMA

A round-up of the latest environmental legal cases including Yorkshire Water and Sepa.

Yorkshire Water fined £600,000 for sewage incident

Yorkshire Water Services has been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,000 for polluting a lake with sewage and killing hundreds of fish.

Leeds Crown Court imposed the penalty after the company pleaded guilty to one charge of causing a water discharge at Walton Colliery Nature Park, Wakefield in October 2013 that was not authorised by an environmental permit.

An earlier court hearing was told that a rising main sewage pipe at Yorkshire Water’s Shay Lane pumping station burst on or before 5 October 2013 and raw sewage flowed into Drain Beck, which feeds a fishing lake in Walton Park and flows into Barnsley Canal. More than 860 dead fish were recovered from the lake and canal, which are stocked by the Walton Angling Club, although the full extent of the damage to aquatic life is unknown, as fish were either eaten by gulls or sank to the bottom of the lake.

Water samples taken by the Environment Agency confirmed that the pollution was significant enough to be fatal to aquatic life and a survey in April 2014 found the lake was still almost devoid of fish. Restocking only started in March 2015 and the fishery will take several years to recover.

Mark West, environment management team leader at the agency, said: ‘This pollution incident had a significant impact on the ecology of the lake and the canal and it could have been avoided had the company taken action to replace the pipe following earlier bursts. Aside from the devastating loss of fish, this incident has had an impact on the lake that will last for some time.’

Yorkshire Water apologised for the incident. A spokesperson said the company was investing £1 million at the Shay Lane plant to avoid such pollution in the future.

The fine is the third largest imposed on a water company for a prosecution brought by the agency since sentencing guidelines were altered in 2014 to allow higher penalties. In January, Thames Water was fined a record £1 million after it repeatedly polluted the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal with sewage from its Tring treatment works between July 2012 and April 2013.


Sepa fines average £20,314

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) referred 36 cases to the Procurator Fiscal, served 116 statutory notices (not including information notices) and issued 141 final warning letters in 2014/15.

Sepa’s latest enforcement report also reveals that the majority of referred cases were for offences under the waste (15 cases or 41%) or water regimes (nine cases or 25%). Of the 18 cases that resulted in convictions in 2014/15, a total of 14 fines were imposed, amounting to £284,400, the largest total over the past five years. The average fined imposed by the courts was £20,314, compared with £10,965 in 2013/14. The average fine awarded against companies as opposed to individuals was £28,583.


Civil penalties for ETS failures

The Environment Agency published in January the names of 20 organsiations penalised since June 2015 for failing to surrender sufficient allowances to cover aviation emissions under the EU emissions trading system. They were:

  • Jet Airways (India) – £12,716.25;
  • Bel Air – £66,124.50;
  • Embraer SA – £52,136.63;
  • Flying Lion – £37,385.78;
  • FL510-GmbH – £25,347.73;
  • American International – £24,076.10;
  • Midroc Aviation – £56,460.15;
  • 21st Century Fox America – £17,463.65;
  • Turkmenhovayollary – £10,766.43;
  • SPX Corporation – £10,427.33;
  • Al Rushaid Aviation – £3,645.33;
  • Bahrain Royal Flight – £60,698.90;
  • GF Air – £6,358.13;
  • Hill Air Corporation – £7,205.88;
  • The Jet Centre (trading as The Private Jet Company) – £69,345.95;
  • J C Bamford Excavators – £157,596.73;
  • Franklin Templeton Travel – £25,178.18;
  • DJT Operations I LLC – £1,610.73;
  • MIG Russian Aircraft – £1,441.18; and
  • General Avileasing – £16,192.03.

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