Businesses agree £1.5m payout over environmental law breaches
Drinks firm Heineken UK, food producer Filippo Berio and utility company Anglian Water Services are among six businesses that have agreed to six-figure charity payments after breaching environmental laws.
The Environment Agency (EA) has enforced the payments, which will go towards wildlife and environmental projects, after the companies broke laws relating to river pollution, permit conditions and recycling.
The firms - which also include German healthcare company Sandoz, water provider Northumbrian Water and food manufacturer Kerry Ingredients - agreed to make payments ranging from £120,000 (from Sandoz) to £375,000 (from Northumbrian Water), depending on the severity of the breach.
In total, 26 companies were found to have breached environmental laws, and collectively agreed to raise £1.5m for charity projects, according to the EA.
The EA's legal director for the environment Peter Kellett said: “We take pollution incidents very seriously and the payments of £1.5 million we’re announcing today (31 January) are the result of our firm but fair enforcement action and will benefit people and the environment across the country.
“Enforcement Undertakings allow those who commit offences to restore the environment and to take steps to prevent a recurrence. When appropriate, they allow a quicker resolution than a prosecution and help offenders who are prepared to take responsibility for their actions to put things right with their local communities.”
Thirty charities and projects will benefit from the pay-out, with the projects aimed at creating a direct positive impact on the local environment. Alongside the payments, each company has accepted liability and invested to reduce the chance of similar risks occurring in the future.
Heineken UK was ordered to pay-out £160,000 for a pollution incident which killed fish back in 2014. A spokesperson told edie that a contractor working on the site disposed of waste material in a manner that was “in clear breach of our usual policies and industry best practice”.
“Our support has come as part of an agreed settlement with the Environment Agency, relating to an isolated incident that occurred in early 2014,” the spokesperson said. “Since the incident, we have taken steps to tighten up our procedures; and have carried out further training of colleagues and contractors to ensure that it will not happen again.”
Heineken UK’s pay-out will benefit two local community organisations - the Wye & Usk Foundation and Bugs and Beasties.
Many of the six-figure payouts were in response to a failure to recycle or correctly dispose of waste. This backs up claims made by Scotland's Environment Agency, which recently warned the country's industries and farmers that their waste and inefficiency was now the biggest threat to the environment, overtaking pollution.