Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd of Stowe, Buckinghamshire was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,052.79 in costs after pleading guilty to discharging polluted water into a stream.

The site where the company was working had two discharge points where balancing ponds were used to filter solids out of site water before it entered Mansfield’s River Maun or a stream called Cauldwell Brook.

The court heard how on 1 May 2008, the pumping operation failed to discharge through the treatment system. This resulted in polluted water entering a tributary of the Cauldwell Brook which was seen to be orange until its confluence with the River Maun, 1.5km downstream.

The pollution was then visible for a further 500 metres downstream in the River Maun through Mansfield.

The incident also polluted a three acre fishing facility located on the Cauldwell Brook.

Even though no fish were killed, angling and fauna were affected.

Yvonne Ratcliffe, an Environment Agency officer involved in the investigation said: “It is regrettable that the Buckingham Group did not act to prevent this pollution.

“This incident was not reported to the Environment Agency by the company and although they had procedures in place to manage the treatment of silty water, on this occasion they were not followed.

“It is essential to have procedures in place to control discharges into watercourses, but more importantly to ensure that they are adhered to and that the staff using them are adequately trained.”

In mitigation, the court heard that the company was apologetic for the incident, stating that it was a single incident caused by an act of carelessness.

Following the incident, treatment and monitoring of the site drainage has improved to avoid a repetition of events and the local fishery was compensated accordingly.

In sentencing, the District Judge took into account that the incident was one act, although a careless one. He also considered that the company had compensated the local fishery before hand.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under Section 85 (1) & (6) of the Water Recourses Act 1991.

Sam Bond

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