The Yorkshire-based airport appeared before a district judge at Leeds Magistrates court earlier today (December 14) where it pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching its discharge consent, and one charge of causing pollution to seep into Scotland Beck, Yeadon – a rural watercourse that runs into the River Aire.

The charges brought by the Environment Agency (EA) relate to the period between October 2007 and March 2010, which saw a total of 23 breaches. As a result, the airport was ordered to pay £9,000 for each of the five charges, £6,213.25 in court costs and a £15 victim surcharge. The court was also asked to take three other offences into account.

EA investigations concluded the breaches of consent mainly occurred during the winter when the run-off from the site and its runways were contaminated with de-icer. The court heard that de-icer has high levels of Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), which means that it consumes a lot of oxygen in the water, reducing the levels for fish and other wildlife.

EA team leader Jo Kay said: “All businesses, and in particular airports, have the potential to have a major impact on the environment. In this case there was no identifiable harm done but this prosecution shows that there is no room for mediocre practices. Businesses need to be careful at all times that their operation does not harm our environment.”

In mitigation, the court heard that Leeds International had been fully cooperative with the EA and had made a significant effort to improve the site’s drainage and to contain pollution on site.

Carys Matthews

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