Energy company handed £20,000 fine for diesel spill

A power company has been fined £20,000 for a diesel spill that polluted a Scottish loch resulting in a "devastating" impact on the environment.

Sherriff Andrew Berry fined Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution at Lochmaddy Sheriff Court after it pled guilty to a charge of causing or permitting about 45,000 litres of red diesel to leak from a storage tank hole into Loch Carnan in South Uist, Western Isles in November last year (2008).

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said the incident ‘had a devastating impact on the water environment.’

Hazel MacLeod, SEPA investigating officer, said: “Diesel and fuel oil can have a severe polluting effect on a watercourse.

“The oil forms a film over the water and therefore prevents oxygen exchange from occurring resulting in low levels of oxygen which can lead to the death of fish and invertebrates.

“The death of invertebrates also has an impact on fish life.

“The discharge of oil in this instance was not and would not be licensed by SEPA. It had an impact on the use of the water for recreation.

“Not only through the direct pollution and damage to amenity caused by the oil itself, but also through the associated construction of a breakwater to assist in the oil clean up exercise.”

SEPA officers were called to the incident on Monday, November 17, they found oil extending two meters into the sea from the shoreline, which was saturated with oil.

Booms had been placed at both entrances of the bay below the Loch Carnan power station.

Investigators found dead worms and crabs and oil in the cages of a nearby fish farm.

A company spokesman said after last Monday’s (November 17) court decision: “We accept the court’s decision. The incident is something we deeply regret.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie