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  • by Trevor Loveday

Seven Trent Water fined £1.5m for sewage spills at four plants

Severn Trent Water has been fined £1.5 million for illegal sewage discharges at four of its treatment works in 2018.


The court heard how a blockage at the company’s sewage treatment plant at works at Blackminster, near Evesham in Worcestershire resulted in some 360,000 litres were discharged illegally into a brook in February 2018.


The Environment Agency’s prosecuting counsel told the court that Severn Trent Water had not responded promptly to alarms at the Blackminster works after a piece of equipment failed resulting in sewage being discharged into a number of watercourses in Worcestershire.


The court also heard how over the winter of 2017/2018, Severn Trent Water failed to adequately manage treatment of sewage sludge at other treatment works in Worcestershire.

At the company’s sewage treatment works at Bromsgrove and Stoke Prior, problems with the sewage treatment process led to discharges above permitted levels into the Sugar Brook and Hen Brook in early March 2018.


And the court heard how Severn Trent Water did not adequately manage an an equipment failure at its Priest Bridge works near Redditch in July and August 2018. The failure resulted in discharges from the site in breach of limits set for ammoniacal nitrogen over a two-day period in early August 2018.


In respect of the Bromsgrove and Stoke Prior incident the judge said, “Bad weather played a part but more should have been done to cope with the problems by way of spare capacity.”


On the Priest Bridge incident, the judge said, “There was a serious problem developing”, and that Severn Trent Water were, “in no great hurry to carry out maintenance.”


He said the company’s previous convictions were an aggravating feature of this prosecution.

A fine of £1 million was imposed for the offence at Blackminster and £500,000 for the offence at Priest Bridge. There was no separate penalty for the breaches at Bromsgrove and Stoke Prior. The company was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £58,365.


The conviction followed an announcement that the Environment Agency and Ofwat have both launched new investigations into sewage treatment works after new checks led to water companies admitting that they could be releasing unpermitted sewage discharges.

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