Environmental Sentencing

  • 09 November 2023 09 November 2023

Environmental sentencing update

Date Turnover/size of company (N.B approx only) Court Fine Sector Incident type
16th Aug £1,816 million Warrington Magistrates' Court £800,000 Water

The defendant water company illegally extracted 22 billion litres of water from boreholes – enough to fill 8,800 Olympic swimming pools. The over abstraction caused additional stress on the environment during a period of very dry weather and led to a significant decline in the water level available in an aquifer. The aquifer, an underground water storage area, which helps to support healthy river flows, and is an important public water source, will take years to recover.

17th Aug £1,380 million n/a Will donate £55,000 to Tyne Rivers Trust Construction

The defendant construction company breached its environmental permit when contaminated water was washed down highway drains and into a river. It had an environmental permit which allowed it to discharge water treated by a sediment treatment facility into the river.
Following a dry spell of weather, the defendant had decided to jet wash and sweep the road surface to remove a build-up of mud. However, the road sweeper was not powerful enough to suck up all of the dirty water and instead the contaminated water ran directly into highway drains, bypassing the company’s sediment treatment measures, and into the river.
The defendant submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.

5th July £159.9 million Lewes Crown Court £3.33 million Water

The defendant water company was fined after millions of litres of raw sewage flooded two rivers for several hours. Several thousand fish were killed after equipment failed. A pump at the defendant’s sewage treatment works was activated in error. This led to a storm lagoon discharging sewage and rainwater into the stream, pushing it into the river, despite there being no significant rainfall. The lagoon should only come into operation in wet weather. A visual check of the storm lagoon would have told them of the issue. Staff could have looked at equipment monitoring the rivers and at the water itself. A range of options to mitigate the disaster were available, but all were missed.
The defendant pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 regarding the pollution and operation of the sewage treatment works.

13th July £56.5 million u/k £100,000 Waste

The defendant exceeded the amount of waste tyres it was legally allowed to deposit. It deposited thousands of tyres over the course of a year. It did this without checking that the site was authorised to accept those tyres. 
Records of the delivery and transfer of the waste tyres were also incomplete, breaching statutory regulations. The defendant was charged with failing to take all such measures as were reasonable in the circumstances to prevent the contravention by any other person of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 s33 contrary to sections 34(1)(a) and 34(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

9th Aug £15.9 million n/a Will pay £23,640 to the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust Agriculture

The defendant farming business repeatedly spread sludge waste on its land without permission. No environmental harm has been identified from the spreading carried out by the defendant but the defendant avoided paying application fees.
The defendant submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the EA.
This includes payment of £23,640 to support the work of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. The offer outlined that the defendant will revise its land spreading procedures and not spread without permissions for spreading in place.

20th July Small company Plymouth Magistrates' Court

£6,667 fine

Ordered to pay £11,109 for the economic benefit gained from the offending


The defendant haulage company wrongly believed it could tip 10,000 tonnes of waste under two exemptions, and had taken 10,500 tonnes of waste to a site. It stated overtipping was through a lack of understanding. The farm where the waste was dumped was allowed 1,000 tonnes of soil and stones to be deposited, but in 22 months over 14,500 tonnes was deposited. The majority was by the defendant. The defendant pleaded guilty to depositing controlled waste contrary to regulations 12 and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

4th July Micro company Grimsby Crown Court £25,640 Waste

The defendant admitted operating a waste facility in contravention of environmental permits. Officers estimated that the operator had avoided £19,189.50 in permitting charges. The site was also assessed to have stored 726.31 tonnes of waste.



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