Skip to main content

Yorkshire Water fined £350,000 for sewage pollution of Harrogate watercourse

On 17 August 2016, Yorkshire Water was fined after admitting that they had illegally discharged sewage into a Harrogate watercourse.

On 17 August 2016, Yorkshire Water was fined after pleading guilty to breaching regulations 12(1)(b) and 38 (1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 following the illegal discharge of sewage into a Harrogate watercourse.

It was fined £350,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 costs to the Environment Agency (EA).

The offence related to a blocked sewer overflow in April 2013 which caused untreated sewage to flow into Rud Beck and the River Crimple. This caused the significant pollution of over 5km of the watercourse.

Bradford Crown Court heard that following the discharge, water downstream of the overflow turned a cloudy yellow-grey colour and toilet rolls and rags were visible in the water. Samples also revealed high levels of ammonia and low levels of dissolved oxygen.

Investigations by the EA found that sewage had discharged from the overflow for three days before Yorkshire Water notified the EA of the incident on 15 April 2013. This was because the company’s telemetry alarm system had been malfunctioning since March 2013. Yorkshire Water had also failed to reset their alarm system following a previous alarm.

Yorkshire Water have since upgraded their telemetry system and introduced an escalation procedure to address contradictions in the alarm system.

This fine is the latest in a series for Yorkshire Water this year, which include a £600,000 fine in January for the sewage pollution of a Wakefield fishing lake and a £1.1 million fine in April for the discharge of sewage in to the River Ouse. The recent cases involving Yorkshire Water emphasise the Court’s willingness to use their sentencing powers in order to demonstrate to companies the importance of adhering to environmental permitting regulations.