Severn Trent Water has been fined £500,000 for discharging raw sewage in November 2013 onto land at Sutton Park in the West Midlands – a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The company was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court. It was ordered also to pay prosecution costs of £50,694 and a victim surcharge of £120. The incident occurred due to a blockage in the company’s sewer system within Sutton Park.
Rare and sensitive plants in an area of 0.65 hectares were destroyed. Natural England had expressed concern with the progress and efficiency of the clean-up operation, which concluded in May 2014.
The Environment Agency reported that in passing sentence, Judge Drew QC noted that the clean-up operation had been “slow and poorly managed, but that the company had ultimately taken all necessary steps to remediate the site and that it had made a long term commitment to restoring the affected area.”
In mitigation, the court noted Severn Trent’s overall environmental record, that it had accepted responsibility for the incident, and that it was not a commercially motivated offence. The Environment Agency said it had recognised “an improvement in Severn Trent Water’s overall environmental compliance since the incident.”