Business

Environmental charities set to receive £1.5m from EA enforcement actions

Companies that have broken environmental laws will be made to donate more than £1.5 million to charity between them as part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) latest round of enforcement undertakings.

As well as prosecuting businesses that breach environmental regulations, the EA is also able to issue civil sanctions as an alternative way of improving performance and punishing illegal behaviour.

The list of new enforcement undertakings, announced today (31 January), documents breaches by 26 businesses, including producers and water and waste companies, who have consequently had to make payments ranging from £1,500 to £375,000. Six of those businesses agreed to make six-figure donations. They are:

  • Northumbrian Water Limited (£375,000) for pumping raw sewage into a tributary of the River Tyne;
  • Filippo Berio UK Limited (£253,906) for failing to recover or recycle packaging waste;
  • Anglian Water Services Limited have made two separate payments (£100,000 and £100,000) both for causing pollution incidents which killed fish;
  • Heineken UK Limited (£160,000) for causing a pollution incident which killed fish;
  • Kerry Ingredients UK Limited (£127,975) for causing a pollution incident which killed fish;
  • Sandoz Limited (£120,932) for failing to recover or recycle packaging waste.

In total, 30 charities and environmental groups will be receiving a piece of the £1,535,992 payout, all of which will be spent on projects dedicated to making a positive impact on the environment, including the clean-up of rivers, the restocking of native species into waterways and the development of parkland.

In addition to the payments, each company has admitted responsibility for its action, demonstrated how it has taken steps to repair the environmental harm it may have done and invested to reduce the risk of similar breaches of regulation in the future.

Packaging and waste offences

A full list of the 26 businesses that have made payments is available on the EA website, but those that have been investigated for failing to register for the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 and did not take ‘reasonable steps’ to recover and recycle packaging waste (accounting for one half of offenders) are listed below, and, perhaps surprisingly, include the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, which hosts the annual Resource and Waste Management Exhibition, a  major exhibition for the waste industry:

  • Filippo Berio UK Ltd (above) – £253,906 to Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust;
  • Sandoz Limited (above) – £120,932 to Surrey Wildlife Trust;
  • Biasi UK Limited – £24,022 to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust;
  • Bibby Distribution Limited – £20,500 to the Woodland Trust;
  • Hansgrohe Limited – £18,124 to Surrey Wildlife Trust;
  • The National Exhibition Centre Ltd – £14,858 to the Canal & River Trust;
  • Klebchemie MG Becker GmbH & Co KG – £12,588 to Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust;
  • Lacons Brewery Limited – £11,478 to the Woodland Trust
  • Jigsaw Foods Limited – £8,935 to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust;
  • Vitaflo (International) Limited – £8,260 to the Land Trust
  • Reflex Nutrition Limited – £5,132 to Sussex Wildlife Trust;
  • Grey Technology Limited – £4,745 to the Woodland Trust; and
  • Penny Lane Foods Limited – £1,000 to Somerset Wildlife Trust

In addition, landfill operator Integrated Waste Management Limited was made to pay £50,000 to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust after leakage from one of its sites polluted a nearby river, killing hundreds of fish, and Whites Recycling Limited paid £46,000 to the Severn Rivers Trust for water discharge offences.

Emscar Limited was also penalised for failing to make a consignee quarterly return, as per hazardous waste regulations, and made a £2,300 contribution to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Offenders putting things right with their local communities

The EA’s ability to accept enforcement undertakings was extended in 2015 to a far wider range of offences and the environmental watchdog is increasingly using them for suitable cases to swiftly restore the environment, improve practices of the offending company and avoid longer criminal court cases.

Commenting on the new list, Peter Kellett, Legal Director for the Environment Agency, said: “We take pollution incidents very seriously and the payments of £1.5 million we’re announcing today 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.”

Stephen Trotter, Director of the Wildlife Trusts England, said: “The principle that a polluter should make amends for the damage they’ve caused makes good sense. We all depend on a healthy environment and this positive scheme allows some natural improvements to be funded which otherwise wouldn’t happen. Clearly it would be better if these incidents hadn’t happened in the first place – but at least something positive has come out of it.

“The Wildlife Trusts also welcome the deterrent effect that these enforcement undertakings should have. It’s really important that people understand their responsibilities and care for the natural world – it’s also cheaper and makes business sense to do things cleanly [rather] than risk causing damage and pollution.”

The full list of enforcement undertakings is available at the Environment Agency’s website.

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