Sunday, March 3, 2024

Yorkshire Water pays record £1m to charity after Harrogate pollution incident

Yorkshire Water has paid a record £1m to charities after polluting a Harrogate watercourse, following an investigation by the Environment Agency.

The company breached its environmental permit with an unauthorised sewage discharge from Hookstone Road combined sewer overflow, which polluted Hookstone Beck.

It submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency proposing a charitable donation totalling £1m, the largest ever accepted by the Agency.

It has paid £500,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and £500,000 to Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. It has also completed a significant £1.85million sewer network upgrade in the area as part of the enforcement terms.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies or individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a payment to an environmental charity to carry out environmental improvements in the local area.

Hookstone Road combined sewer overflow has an environmental permit which allows a discharge into the beck when the storm sewage facility is full due to rainfall or snow melt.

On 31 August 2016 the Environment Agency received a report of pollution in Hookstone Beck. Investigating officers traced it to the overflow at Hookstone Road, which had blocked and not alerted Yorkshire Water due to faulty telemetry equipment.

The investigation found that almost 1,500 fish had been killed and water quality affected for 2.5km downstream. A series of further blockages and discharges took place in the following months.

A detailed Environment Agency investigation was undertaken, this included the use of devices called sondes in the river to measure the impact of ammonia and an assessment of Event Duration Monitoring data that revealed the company was in breach of its environmental permit.

As part of the Enforcement Undertaking requirements Yorkshire Water has already carried out a £1.85m improvement and rebuilding project to the overflow and surrounding sewer network to bring it back into compliance with its environmental permit.

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