Yorkshire Water: firm pays record £1m to charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream

Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate
Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate. (Photo: Environment Agency/PA Wire)Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate. (Photo: Environment Agency/PA Wire)
Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate. (Photo: Environment Agency/PA Wire)

Yorkshire Water has paid a record £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after polluting a Harrogate watercourse, the Environment Agency (EA) has announced. It paid £500,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and £500,000 to Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust after it breached its environmental permit.

The EA found the water company had an unauthorised sewage discharge from Hookstone Road combined sewer overflow, which polluted Hookstone Beck in 2016. The EA said Yorkshire Water submitted an Enforcement Undertaking – a voluntary offer made by companies or individuals to make amends, proposing the £1 million donation to environmental charities to carry out improvements in the local area. It is the largest Enforcement Undertaking the EA has ever accepted from a company.

The investigation at Hookstone Road combined sewer overflow found that almost 1,500 fish had been killed and water quality was affected for more than a mile and a half (2.5km) downstream. Meanwhile, a series of further blockages and discharges took place in the following months.

Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate. (Photo: Environment Agency/PA Wire).Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate. (Photo: Environment Agency/PA Wire).
Yorkshire Water has paid £1 million to environmental and wildlife charities after illegally discharging sewage into a stream in Harrogate. (Photo: Environment Agency/PA Wire).

Investigators used 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. Claire Barrow, EA area environment manager in Yorkshire, said the “significant £1 million civil sanction will be invested back into the local area to enhance the environment for people and wildlife.”

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the payment in North Yorkshire for new and improved homes for wildlife, mainly on its wetland reserves, including Ripon City Wetlands and the River Tutt at Staveley Nature Reserve. Meanwhile, Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust will develop a programme of improvements along the River Nidd.

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “This incident was initially caused by a plank of wood that shouldn’t have been in the sewer network and took place seven years ago. We acted quickly to stop the pollution but understand incidents of this kind are distressing and, when things go wrong, we understand we have a responsibility to make it right and to prevent these things from happening at all.”

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