One of the UK’s largest food producers, Faccenda Foods Limited, which trades as “Avara Foods”, has been ordered to pay £226,460 in fines and costs at a hearing in Wellingborough Magistrates Court.
Anglian Water discovered the company was breaching the conditions of its consent, by allowing trade effluent which did not meet the required quality standards to enter the sewers and water recycling centre serving the town of Brackley.
Avara Foods pleaded guilty to 3 offences under the Water Industry Act 1991 and was fined £200,000. The company was also ordered to pay £26,270 costs and a victim surcharge of £190. This is the largest fine ever imposed in the Anglian Water region for trade effluent breaches.
Trade effluent consents are granted by Anglian Water and consent conditions specify the levels allowed for certain pollutants. These levels are set at a level to protect the public, the treatment process and to prevent environmental harm. Companies that hold consents are responsible for ensuring the discharge meets these levels at all times and take appropriate action when a problem arises.
Discharges like this which breach a consent can cause blockages and increase the risk of flooding to homes or the environment; it can also impact on the sewage treatment process.
On 30 occasions between July 2021 and January 2023, Avara Foods discharged effluent which did not meet the consent conditions. As a result of these breaches, Anglian Water had to take action to prevent impact to the downstream environment, including tankering the effluent out of the network.
Natasha Kenny, Head of Quality Regulation and Enforcement at Anglian Water said:
“At Anglian Water, we take our duty of care to the environment incredibly seriously – and that extends to companies working under trade effluent consents.
“We will always work with traders to achieve compliance. Prosecution is a last resort – but the extended length of this particular consent breach, coupled with the risk of blockages, overflows and sewer flooding to residents of Brackley, meant we had no other choice.
“It is vital that business customers are compliant with consent conditions – we will work with traders to achieve compliance, but we will not hesitate to take legal action when necessary to protect the environment.”