Polluting water firm hands charities record £1m payout

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust are to share a record £1m donation from Yorkshire Water, after it polluted waterways in their area.

The company was found in breach of its environmental permit due to an unauthorised sewage discharge that polluted a Harrogate watercourse.

After the breach was discovered, the firm submitted an enforcement undertaking to the Environmental Agency proposing a charitable donation to local charities totalling £1m.

This is the largest sum accepted as part of the undertaking, which is a voluntary offer made by companies or individuals “to make amends for their offending”, according to the Environment Agency.

Through the offer Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust have both received £500,000.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use its payment in the North Yorkshire for new and improved homes for wildlife, mainly in wetland reserve areas. This includes supporting the habitat of wading birds and creating safe breeding islands.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust will use its payment to develop improvements along the river Nidd, working with partners, including local communities.

“We always consider enforcement options on a case-by-case basis and Enforcement Undertakings allow companies to put right what went wrong and contribute to environmental improvements and outcomes,” said the Environment Agency’s area environment manger in Yorkshire Claire Barrow.

“This significant £1million civil sanction will be invested back into the local area to enhance the environment for people and wildlife.

“The Environment Agency investigation also led to significant improvements to the sewer network in this area to prevent repeat incidents and ensure future compliance with environmental requirements.”

In addition, the water form has completed a £1.85m upgrade to its sewer network in the area.

Under government plans polluting firms will soon face unlimited penalties. Legislation will lift the current cap on financial penalties the Environment Agency can impose.

“This record penalty paid by Yorkshire Water demonstrates that those who damage our natural environment will be held to account,” said water minister Robbie Moore.



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