Water company pays for environmental damage

24th March 2022


Yorkshire Water has agreed to pay £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust following a sewage discharge incident in Leeds in 2018.

The company had breached its environmental permit with an unauthorised sewage discharge from its Garforth Storm Tanks, which caused pollution at Kippax Beck. Flows at Garforth Storm Tanks are managed by an automated valve that controls and isolates sewage. The tanks fill during times of heavy rainfall. If the valve fully closes, all sewage and rainfall are diverted to the storm tanks and an alarm alerts Yorkshire Water. Sewage levels in the tanks are then monitored using level sensors and alarms.

On 17 November 2018, the Environment Agency alerted Yorkshire Water to discoloured water in Kippax Beck. It was discovered that the valve was fully closed, which meant the storm tanks had filled and were discharging into a nearby watercourse. Neither the valve alarm or storm tank sewage level alarms had triggered, meaning the system had appeared to be operating as normal.

The impact was widespread, affecting the beck and its wildlife for 3.3km.

Yorkshire Water agreed an enforcement undertaking withmthe Environment Agency, and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the donation to fund a series of projects at nature reserves in the Lower Aire valley.

The offer also sets out the steps taken for improvements, including replacing and repairing machinery and equipment, carrying out a review of alarms, and completing an environmental survey.

It’s been a bad start to 2022 for Yorkshire Water, which was also fined £233,000, plus £18,766.06 costs and a £170 victim surcharge, after admitting responsibility for a 2017 sewage leak that led to the deaths of hundreds of fish in Tong Beck near Bradford.

Concerns had been raised following issues with pumps at the Dale Road site, which is automated and unmanned. The water company had upgraded the station and renewed the pumps in 2012 in response, installing what was intended to be a temporary isolation valve on the rising main just outside the boundary.

Since the pumping station is not manned, a telemetry system monitors whether the pumps are working. However, there was no such monitoring of the rising main, so the system did not notify Yorkshire Water of the valve failure or resulting loss of sewage from the rising main.

An estimated 20m litres of sewage were discharged over a four-day period.

Since 2015, the Environment Agency has secured water company court fines of more than £137m.

Image credit | Shutterstock

Subscribe

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


Transform articles

UK public wants more involvement in planning process, IEMA research finds

Three in five British adults want more public involvement in the planning system, which could be at odds with Labour’s plans to boost economic growth, IEMA research has found.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Consumers are flexing their purchasing power in support of more sustainable products and services. Dr Andrew Coburn, CEO of sustainability intelligence and analytics firm, Risilience, considers the risk of greenwashing and sets out three key steps businesses can take to avoid the pitfalls and meet the opportunities of changing consumer demand.

18th June 2024

Read more

Groundbreaking legislation on air and noise pollution and measures to tackle growing concerns over disposable vapes provide the focus for Neil Howe’s environmental legislation update

6th June 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 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

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