Southern Water Services Limited (Southern Water) has been ordered to pay £500,000 after untreated sewage was discharged into the Swalecliffe Brook in Kent.
The big fine, plus costs, was awarded by magistrates at Canterbury Crown Court after an Environment Agency (EA) investigation found that untreated sewage was discharged into the Swalecliffe Brook, polluting a 1.2km stretch of the watercourse and killing local wildlife.
The court heard that Southern Water did not respond quickly enough to the pollution, which occurred on July 21st, 2013 when untreated sewage discharged via the Brook Road Wastewater Pumping Station’s emergency outlet, and as a consequence of the spillage EA officers found the water was heavily discoloured with dead sticklebacks and eels at regular intervals along the polluted stretch of the watercourse. A survey identified 249 fish had been killed, as a result of the polluting discharge, including 155 eels, which are a critically endangered species.
“Southern Water has acknowledged that they had sufficient warning and knowledge of the incident to minimise the impact on the local environment, but failed to act swiftly and notify partners to help this happen,” said Alan Cansdale, Environment Manager at the EA. “This incident, and the scale of the subsequent environmental impact, was a result of inadequate urgency to recognise there was a problem at the site.”
Swalecliffe Brook flows through the Thanet Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) before joining the north Kent coast to the east of Whitstable, a section of the coast, which forms part of the Saxon Shore Way.