The Environment Agency have said they are ‘disappointed' by the level of a fine handed out to Anglian Water after sewage killed thousands of fish in Peterborough.
Anglian Water were fined £50,000, while their Alliance Partner, Danaher & Walsh, were fined £10,000 at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court following the incident.
The court heard that on 27 December 2018, a sewer owned by Anglian Water collapsed in Stanground.
Danaher and Walsh set up an over-pumping system to pump the sewage back into the drainage system. However, it became blocked with items that shouldn’t be flushed like baby wipes.
A few days later it failed leading to sewage ending up in Stanground Lode.
Neither company reported the incident to the Environment Agency; instead, a concerned member of the public called the incident hotline.
Environment Agency investigators found the watercourse had been polluted for 1.6 km and that at least 2,413 fish died. Among the species killed were roach, bream, pike and European Eel. This species is currently listed as a “critically endangered” species.
It’s believed sewage could have been discharging into the river for up to 10 hours. Levels of ammonia monitored downstream from the discharge were found to be 200 times higher than average water quality standards.
Both companies pleaded guilty to causing an illegal sewage discharge between 5 January and 8 January 2019.
Following the sentencing, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency Yvonne Daly said: “The Environment Agency takes such devastating pollution incidents incredibly seriously.
“Anyone caught breaching environmental laws faces enforcement action, up to and including prosecution.
“We are disappointed with the fine issued in this case and would like to see higher penalties to really deter polluters from future offences.
“Both companies in this case failed in their environmental duties, leaving to a devastating impact on the local biodiversity. Moreover, they failed to notify the Environment Agency when something had gone wrong.
“We are grateful to the vigilant members of the public that did report the pollution. Anyone with any concerns about pollution should contact us on 0800 807060.”
Anglian Water were also ordered to pay costs of £24,387. while Danaher & Walsh were ordered to pay costs of £5,000.