Legal brief: Pollution incidents cost Thames Water £247,500

5th March 2015


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Water ,
  • Environment agencies ,
  • Legislation

Author

Ebenezer Igunnu

Guildford Crown Court has fined Thames Water £220,000 and ordered it to pay £27,500 costs for polluting a watercourse running through a site of special scientific interest and killing scores of fish.

The case was referred to the court for sentencing by Redhill Magistrates’ Court because of its seriousness and to ensure stiffer financial penalties were imposed on the company. The lower court had been told that partly treated sewage from Thames Water’s Camberley treatment works was allowed to pollute the River Blackwell twice in September 2012.

The first incident, on 7 September, killed more than 100 fish by depriving them of oxygen over a 1.5km stretch of the watercourse. Agency officers traced the problem back to the treatment works. Thames Water argued that contractors had been at fault, but the court concluded that the company had been “reckless in relation to the incident” and that “significant environmental harm had been caused”.

On 30 September, Thames Water told the agency about hour-long illegal discharge into the river from storm tanks at the site. Thames Water accepted that the problem was due to a blockage that caused toilet paper and sewage debris to build up. This resulted in raw sewage being diverted to the storm tanks. Judge Lucas concluded that the company had been negligent in allowing the blockage to occur, and that a discharge of that nature would have resulted in some harm to water quality.

Thames Water pleaded guilty to causing pollution to an environmentally sensitive site on both occasions. A spokesperson said: “We very much regret this incident and have reviewed procedures and invested in new equipment at the treatment works to reduce the chance of anything like this happening again.”

Agency officer Andrew Valantine commented: “Unfortunately, the first incident was a serious one which led to fish being killed and the water quality being badly affected over a significant stretch of the river.”

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

UK’s net-zero economy grows by 9%

The UK’s net-zero economy grew 9% last year while delivering higher paid jobs than average and attracting billions of pounds in private investment, analysis by CBI Economics has uncovered.

28th February 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Three-quarters of UK adults are concerned about the impact that climate change will have on their bills, according to polling commissioned by Positive Money.

13th February 2024

Read more

All major housing developments in England will be required by law to deliver at least a 10% increase in biodiversity under new rules that came into force today.

12th February 2024

Read more

The crisis engulfing nature poses a massive risk to the global economy. Huw Morris reports on how the finance sector is adopting new measures for disclosing business activities and channelling investment

1st February 2024

Read more

Fossil fuel companies may soon be forced to pay out billions for their role in the climate crisis. Trial lawyer Jeffrey B Simon tells Chris Seekings about his groundbreaking lawsuit in the US

1st February 2024

Read more

Decarbonising the global economy will require a financing shift of historic proportions. Vivienne Russell assesses the scale of the challenge, the barriers and the opportunities

1st February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close