Yorkshire Water pays £235,000 for illegal Harrogate sewage discharge
Last updated Jul 12, 2023
Hookstone Beck. Pic: Derek Harper/Geograph

Yorkshire Water has agreed to pay £235,000 to charity for illegally pumping sewage into Hookstone Beck in Harrogate.

The Environment Agency said today the company breached its environmental permit by discharging sewage from its Stray Road combined sewer overflow into the beck, which flows between Hookstone Road and Crimple Beck.

Following an Environment Agency investigation, Yorkshire Water volunteered to make amends for its offence.

It agreed to pay the sum to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which will use the donation on environmental improvements in North Yorkshire including native crayfish conservation and reed bed management at Ripon City Wetlands.

The Environment Agency said the Stray Road combined sewer overflow, near Tewit Well, has an environmental permit which allows a discharge into the beck when the storm sewage facility is fully utilised due to rainfall or snow melt.

On 27 August 2015, it discharged illegally during dry weather and sewage fungus was evident on the bed of Hookstone Beck.

Yorkshire Water has now upgraded its telemetry to allow continuous monitoring of the storm overflow.

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The company agreed to an enforcement undertaking, which is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a donation to a wildlife charity to carry out environmental

Claire Barrow, Environment Agency area environment manager, said:

“Sewage pollution can be devastating to human health, local biodiversity and out environment. Storm overflows must only be used under strict permitted conditions that control their environmental impact.

“We are holding the water industry to account like never before and while we will always take forward prosecutions in the most serious cases, enforcement undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.

“They allow polluters to correct and restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents by improving their procedures, helping ensure future compliance with environmental requirements.

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said it had made “significant improvements in our operations since this incident in 2015″, adding:

“When things go wrong, we understand we have a responsibility to make it right.”

A Yorkshire Wildlife Trust statement said:

“Nature is in crisis and we firmly believe polluters causing damage to the environment must make amends, including through clean-up operations and fines.”