Site discharge costs house builder £120,000

Grant Prior 12 months ago
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A Leeds-based house building company has been fined £120,000 for polluting a watercourse with run-off from a Huddersfield construction site.

The firm's attempt to contain the muddy water was inadequate; silt was seen flowing off the site

Harron Homes Limited was sentenced at Leeds Magistrates’ Court after admitting one charge of causing illegal discharges from its Farriers Croft estate in 2015.

The Environment Agency prosecuted the firm after investigating reports of contaminated run-off which was entering a tributary of Grimescar Dyke.

Rosalind Emsley-Smith, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that an officer visited the site on 20 November 2015 and saw polluted water flowing out of the entrance of the construction site.

The company was also pumping silt contaminated water from site excavations which also entered the watercourse.

Following the Environment Agency’s visit, Harron Homes attempted to control the silt run-off by setting up settlement tanks.

But further incidents of pollution were reported in November and December 2015 and subsequent inspections revealed that this system was inadequate. Silty water was found to be discharging, resulting in further pollution.

Samples taken from the discharges showed that they were having a significant impact on the water quality in the watercourse up to three kilometres further downstream.

Mark West, environment management team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “These pollution incidents had a significant impact on the water environment over a number of weeks, and were entirely avoidable.

“In West Yorkshire there has been a worrying increase in the number of pollutions incidents reported to us that on investigation are attributable to the construction sector.

“Construction companies should consider the potential environmental impact of developments they undertake at the initial planning stage and must adhere to environmental permitting rules and invest in appropriate management systems to prevent their activities from affecting the local environment.”

In mitigation, Harron Homes told the court that it had now put procedures in place to prevent future pollution incidents.

In addition to the fine, the company was ordered to pay £8,706.71 in legal costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

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