Call for higher fines for polluting firms

Government's environmental watchdog the Environment Agency has called on courts to up fines handed out to polluters as it names the worst hit regions.

The agency today (November 6) published the latest pollution figures showing serious pollution cases in England and Wales actually dropped 13% from 827 in 2008 to 723 in 2007.

Worst polluters were in the north of England, with Yorkshire and the North East and North West having the most serious incidents caused by industry in 2008.

Yorkshire and the North east had 133 pollution cases, 18% of the total, with the North East having 119 incidents, 16% of the total.

Compared to the Southern region which had only 35, 5% of the total, and the Thames region which had 70 offences10% of the total.

The figures do not cover Northern Ireland or Scotland, but it does cover Wales which had 102 pollution incidents 14% of the total.

In the last year the agency successfully brought 722 cases against firms and people for environmental crimes.

This led to fines and costs of £5.3m, with an average fine of £10,080 – up from £8,229 the last year.

The agency’s chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster, called for increased fines to act as a deterrent to polluters.

He said: “We want to see higher fines for pollution incidents to provide a greater deterrent.

“There are still an average of two serious pollution incidents a day and this is too many.

“We will continue to work with businesses and individuals to prevent incidents, but we will prosecute businesses and individuals where it is clear that they are not taking sufficient precautions.”

Luke Walsh

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