Environment Agency fined for pollution

Officers more used to prosecuting court actions than defending them found themselves before a judge this week after the Environment Agency caused a serious pollution incident on the River Exe.

The watchdog was fined £7,500 for polluting the river and ordered to pay £1,466 in costs in what was the only ever case where it has been prosecuted for an environmental crime.

Normally the agency would outline the case against polluters but on this occasion a local landowner was given permission to take legal action.

The agency entered a guilty plea at Exeter Crown Court which heard how contractors who were working on its behalf setting up a flow monitoring station last September had accidentally released toxic building waste into the river, killing upwards of 300 fish.

The subcontractor, May Gurney, was fined a further £27,500 for its part in the incident.

Both May Gurney and the agency accepted culpability and acknowledged insufficient supervision had been given to those setting up the station.

They apologised for the part they played and the EA said it had learned lessons from the unfortunate incident.

Sam Bond

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