Severn Trent fined £500,000 over park sewage horror

Severn Trent Water has been fined £500,000 after gallons of raw sewage flooded part of a Midland beauty spot.The Coventry-based company acted “recklessly” according to a judge in not carrying out proper regime of monitoring and then poorly managing the clear-up. It related to an incident which took place in Sutton Park, Birmingham, more than five years ago. Severn Trent, which has its headquarters in St John’s Street in Coventry city centre, was also ordered to pay £50,693 costs after admitting charges under the Environmental Protection Act and Environmental Permitting Regulations. Birmingham Crown Court heard the company, which employs 15,000 people, was responsible for the network of sewerage pipes that run across the park which contains a diversity of flora and faun, some of which are rare. The accident occurred on November 12 2013 as a result of debris from a broken manhole cover, which caused a blockage on the west side of Sutton Park near Chester Road. It was reported to Severn Trent the following day and the sewage flow was finally blocked in the afternoon.

(Image: BPM)

“By that time thousands of gallons of raw sewage had been discharged into the park and had spread,” said Judge Simon Drew QC, The clear-up operation began immediately in an area covering 1.15 hectares but the whole process took over five months and was not completed until May the following year. “The clear up was slow and poorly managed and as a result water continued to wash pollution further into the park,” the judge added. The footage below offers tips on how to save water

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Judge Drew said the company had three previous convictions in the last four years and that in 2006 there had been another serious discharge of sewage into Sutton Park, which showed it was not an isolated incident. That, he said, should have served to underline the risks involved but Severn Trent had failed to put in place or enforce a system to avoid another offence being committed. There was no regime, he said, to monitor or inspect the network of pipes and no plan to rectify any damage caused by pollution which showed how “reckless” the company had been He said there had been “significant” harm caused to flora within the area.

Sutton Park.
(Image: Birmingham Mail)

The judge said he accepted Severn Trent had worked to remedy the problem and that it was not a cash motivated offence. Following the fine Severn Trent issued a statement apologising for the incident. It said: “We’re truly sorry for the impact the blockage in our sewer pipes had on Sutton Park.  “We worked closely with the Environment Agency, Natural England, English Heritage, and Birmingham City Council to clean up the affected area. “Monitoring of the area, carried out over a number of years by specialist environmental consultants, showed there was no long-term impact to the site, to wildlife or to the local pools and streams. “We’ve also been carrying out a review of our assets in and around the park to see if we can reduce the risk of pollution in the future.   »
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Severn Trent

The statement added: “We’ve also installed special monitors on sewers throughout the park to give us an early warning of any potential blockages. “Since this event in 2013 we’ve worked hard to improve our environmental performance across the whole of our region, and have significantly reduced the number of pollution incidents we’ve had. “Moving forward we’re investing millions of pounds to maintain our sewer pipes to prevent sewer flooding and blockages like this from happening in the first place.” Visit our Facebook pages for Coventry and Nuneaton or visit our Twitter pages for Coventry and Nuneaton Watch our videos on YouTube and see our photos on Instagram Find old stories in our online Archives and search for jobs, motors and property, or place an advert or family notice here