Leeds Crown Court sentenced the business on Tuesday (January 19) after pleading guilty to one charge of causing a water release that was not authorised through an environmental license. The Environment Agency (EA) had brought the prosecution after a contamination incident at Walton Colliery Nature Park in October 2013. In a previous hearing, the court heard that before or on October 5, 2013 a climbing main sewer pipe in Yorkshire Water’s Shay Lane pumping channel burst and raw sewage flowed into Drain Beck, that feeds a fishing lake at Walton Park which itself flows to the Barnsley Canal.
Over the following days, more than 860 dead fish have been removed from the lake and the canal, that are carried by the Walton Angling Club. Water samples confirmed that the contamination was significant enough to be fatal to aquatic life. Back in April 2014, a survey revealed that the main lake and canal were nearly devoid of fish. The poll concluded that recovery would take several years. Last Year in March, the lake had significantly recovered for a restocking programme to beign, but it is going to be a number of years before the fishery recovers to its pre-incident condition. The court heard there’d been four bursts including this one, in the previous two decades, and due to age deterioration of the pipe Yorkshire Water had set the failure down on each occasion. The rising main has been replaced.
His Honour Judge Kearl QC found that the business had been negligent and the episode had caused pollution. The company was given credit for its guilty plea and its response to the event.Mark West, EA surroundings management team leader, said after the case: “Utility companies have a duty to properly handle their infrastructure and ensure that their operations don’t put the environment at unnecessary risk.
This pollution incident had a significant effect on the ecology of the canal and the lake had the company taken actions to substitute the pipe after earlier bursts and it might have been averted. “Aside from the devastating loss of fish, this episode has had an effect on the lake that will last for some time. The angling club has also lost a significant quantity of income throughout the time that the lake has been from use.”