Severn Trent Water has been fined £426,000 after the Environment Agency took the company to court over three pollution incidents when sewage entered a brook on the Nottinghamshire Derbyshire border. The agency said the level of the fine went beyond sentencing guidelines "to send out the necessary message to Severn Trent Water and its shareholders."
The agency said the severity of the fine should alert other companies to be diligent: "This is one of the largest fines ever to be imposed on Severn Trent and I hope it sends a strong message that it is far more cost effective to avoid these incidents, as we will continue to take action against companies and individuals where they ignore their responsibilities,' the watchdog said.
The water firm pleased guilty to the charges in November last year. It was ordered also to pay the watchdog's costs off more than £38,000. Two of the incidents arose when backed up raw sewage leaked into a surface water drain. On the third occasion sewage sludge appeared on the surface and entered the brook from a blocked combined sewer.
The judge said Severn Trent had failed in not taking the initiative on what was a know risk. He warned that it was not sufficient to rely on the absence of a previous incident as a justification for tang not action. On the third incident the judge said the the water firm had been negligent in not preventing what was an "entirely foreseeable" incident.
In June United Utilities Water was fined £600,000 and its contractor, KMI+ was ordered to pay a £333,000 penalty after pleading guilty to polluting a brook following a prosecution by the Environment Agency.