Severn Trent Water Ltd has paid £226,000 to the Trent Rivers Trust following a sewage pollution incident.
In August 2016, two blockages in the Severn Trent foul sewer caused a discharge of sewage into the Thurcaston Brook, a tributary of Rothley Brook in Leicestershire, causing the death of more than 2,000 fish in the area. Severn Trent admitted its error in causing the incident and made the donation to Trent Rivers Trust as part of an enforcement undertaking.
Enforcement undertakings are a form of civil sanction that enables businesses to propose actions to make amends rather than waiting for sanctions. The use of these is on the increase: the Environment Agency says that more than £3.7m has been given in charitable payments over 44 separate enforcement undertakings, in lieu of prosecutions for environmental offences.
Environment Agency officer Lee Whitehouse commented: “Enforcement undertakings allow polluters to positively address and restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents. The Agency is increasingly using this method of enforcement for suitable cases to restore the environment, improve practices of the offending company and avoid longer criminal court cases. However, we will prosecute in appropriate cases.“
The charity will use the money to improve water quality in the Thurcaston/Rothley Brook catchments and associated restoration projects.
Trent Rivers Trust catchment manager Kim Jennings said: “The funds received from this enforcement undertaking have provided valuable financial support to enable many of our partners to deliver work in the catchment that would otherwise have not been possible. Our planned work will increase the number and range of habitats and its overall value for wildlife.“
Severn Trent paid the Environment Agency's costs for incident response and enforcement. The company agreed to take action at the site to improve infrastructure, inspection regimes and raise awareness of pollution prevention and control among employees and contractors.
Picture credit: Alamy