Sewage pollution leads to £200,000 restorative charity donation
Published: 11 Apr 2019

The Environment Agency has secured a £200,000 donation through an Enforcement Undertaking following a pollution incident near Doncaster.

Yorkshire Water Services Ltd paid £200,000 to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which was offered to the Environment Agency after the company admitted causing sewage to enter the Pissy Beds Drain, a tributary which leads into the River Trent.

Enforcement Undertakings are a restorative enforcement sanction, polluters can make an offer to the Environment Agency to pay for or carry out environmental improvements as an alternative to any other enforcement action. The Environment Agency then carefully considers whether the remedial efforts offered by the polluter are acceptable, taking into consideration all the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence.

In September 2015 the Environment Agency was made aware of a burst at a main surface water sewer, but further investigations showed that a transfer of foul sewage between pumping stations led to raw sewage entering the Pissy Beds Drain near Hatfield Colliery.

Elevated ammonia and low dissolved oxygen levels were detected due to sewage entering the watercourse, which had potential to harm fish and the invertebrate life. Once made aware of the incident, the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water Services' response meant that the pollution was contained while the burst was located, stopped and fixed, preventing further environmental harm.

Yorkshire Water Services cleaned the watercourse and repaired the rising main that burst at a cost of £235,000. The Company also paid the Environment Agency's costs in full and carried out a review of their telemetry system to ensure that early warnings are received and acted on, with additional alarms put in place. Staff were briefed on the learning from the incident.

The Enforcement Undertaking offers were officially accepted by the Environment Agency in February 2019 and payments to the charity have already been made. The donation of £200,000 to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will be used to fund Humberhead Levels Nature Improvement Area.

Louise Cresswell, the East Midlands Area Director at the Environment Agency, said "Enforcement Undertakings allow polluters restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents".

"They offer a quick resolution and help offenders who are prepared to take responsibility for their actions to voluntarily make things right. We will continue to seek prosecutions against those who cause severe pollution or who act recklessly".