Yorkshire Water pays out record £1m after pollution offence

Posted at December 12, 2023 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on Yorkshire Water pays out record £1m after pollution offence

Yorkshire Water has paid a record £1 million to charities after polluting a watercourse in Harrogate.

It follows an investigation by the Environment Agency, which found the company breached its environmental permit with an unauthorised sewage discharge from Hookstone Road combined with sewer overflow, leading to polluting Hookstone Beck.

Almost 1,500 fish had been killed and water quality affected for 2.5km downstream in August 2016, in addition to a series of further blockages and discharges taking place in the following months.

The water company submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, proposing a charitable donation of £1 million.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies or individuals to make amends for their offence and usually includes a payment to an environmental charity to carry out environmental improvements in the local area.

A total of £500,000 has been paid to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and £500,000 to Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust.

In addition, Yorkshire Water has completed a £1.85 million sewer network upgrade in the area as part of the enforcement terms.

Water Minister Robbie Moore said: “This record penalty paid by Yorkshire Water demonstrates that those who damage our natural environment will be held to account.

“Our Plan for Water is all about delivering more investment, stronger regulation and tougher enforcement right across the water sector – and this penalty for Yorkshire Water demonstrates that we will take robust action when required.

“Our Plan includes scrapping the cap on civil penalties by introducing unlimited fines and significantly broadening their scope to target a much wider range of offences – from breaches of storm overflow permits to the reckless disposal of hazardous waste.”

Yorkshire Water response

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “We acted quickly to stop the pollution but understand incidents of this kind are distressing and when things go wrong, we understand we have a responsibility to make it right and to prevent these things from happening at all.”

“Unfortunately, it has taken seven years to reach an agreement with the Environment Agency to donate funds to local wildlife charities that will directly benefit Yorkshire, but we are pleased to have finally provided funds to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust.

“We’re committed to protecting the environment and our procedures and processes have evolved significantly since 2016, contributing to a halving of pollution incidents in the last five years.

“Following this incident in 2016, we spent almost £2 million to improve the sewer network in the area to prevent repeat issues.”

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