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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Anglian in the dock for sewage works malfunction

Anglian Water has been fined more than £560,000 after a treatment plant failed and polluted a river.

Doddinghurst Water Recycling Centre, near Brentwood in Essex, released nearly four million litres of raw sewage into Doddinghurst Brook over two-and-a-half days in 2018.

A fault in the aeration process on 28th September 2018 led to sewage discharging into the river. The malfunction was not spotted until 1st October when an operative from Anglian Water, visiting the site, saw the aerators were not working.

As a result, 4km of the River Wid experienced high levels of ammonia for six days after the failure. This damaged the river’s ecosystem and killed fish, including protected species like the bullhead.

At Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court last week Anglian Water was ordered to pay a fine of £536,000, costs of £27,439.21 and a victim surcharge of £170.

District judge Sam Goozee described Anglian Water’s record as ‘lamentable’.

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan said: “We welcome this sentence. Serious pollution is a serious crime. The Environment Agency will pursue any water company that fails to uphold the law or protect nature. We will continue to press for the strongest possible penalties for those which do not.”

This week the government announced that money from fines handed out to water companies that pollute rivers and seas will henceforth be ringfenced specifically for environmental improvement projects rather than just go into general Treasury coffers.

Since 2015, the Environment Agency has concluded 56 prosecutions against water and sewerage companies, securing fines of over £141m.

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