Yorkshire Water has agreed to donate £235,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust after polluting a Harrogate watercourse, following an investigation by the Environment Agency.
The company breached its environmental permit with an unauthorised sewage discharge from Stray Road combined sewer overflow, which polluted Hookstone Beck.
It submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.
An Enforcement Undertaking 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 improvements in the local area.
Stray Road combined sewer overflow 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.
As part of the Enforcement Undertaking requirements Yorkshire Water has upgraded its telemetry to allow continuous monitoring of the storm overflow.
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.”
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the donation on environmental improvements in North Yorkshire including native crayfish conservation and reed bed management at Ripon City Wetlands.