On 15 November 2012, Severn Trent Water Ltd pleaded guilty at Hereford Magistrates’ Court to polluting the River Leadon, a high quality salmon and trout watercourse, by discharging untreated sewage from their Ledbury sewage treatment works.
The company was fined £18,000 (£6,000 per offence) and ordered to pay £5,017 in costs, along with £15 victim surcharge. The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under Regulation 38(1)(a) and Regulation 12(1)(b) of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.
Yesterday’s prosecution relates to three incidents in August 2011, which resulted in untreated sewage entering the River Leadon, causing the death of fish.
Over the weekend of 6/7 August 2011, the Environment Agency responded to calls from the public reporting a number of dead fish on the River Leadon. On inspection of the area, a Fisheries Officer assessed the pollution as a category one (major) incident, due to the number of dead fish observed over an 8km stretch below the Severn Trent Ledbury outfall.
The Environment Agency took water samples which detected low oxygen levels. Severn Trent were contacted, but they were not aware of a problem at their sewage works.
After checking their records, Severn Trent confirmed that on 4 August 2011, the inlet penstock that controls the flow of sewage through the works for treatment, automatically closed, diverting all incoming sewage to the River Leadon.