Water pair pay out £0.5m to charities in penalties for pollution offences

Northumbrian Water and Anglian Water have undertaken to hand out more than £0.5m between them to charities in their regions under an Environment Agency scheme of penalties for breaches of environmental rules.

Northumbrian has agreed to pay £375,000 after it had pumped raw sewage into a tributary of the River Tyne, while Anglian is to pay £100,000 for each of two occasions when it released harmful effluent into fishing waters and another payment of £20,000 for a separate infringement.

Northumbrian and Anglian will also accept liability, demonstrate repair of any damage and invest to reduce the risk of repeat breaches in future. Their undertakings were among 26 from which donations totalling £1.5 m have gone to environmental charities. And the two water firms were among six organisations paying out six-figure sums.

The Environment Agency’s ability to accept such so called Enforcement Undertakings was extended in 2015 to a far wider range of offences. The agency said it was using this enforcement with increasing frequency to restore the environment promptly after a breach and avoid protracted criminal court cases. It said, however, it will continue to prosecute particularly in the most serious cases.