Beauty spot: firm is fined

Runswick Beck pollution caused by Yorkshire Water, as shown in an Environment Agency photograph
Runswick Beck pollution caused by Yorkshire Water, as shown in an Environment Agency photograph

A SEWAGE spill near a popular beauty spot was caused by Yorkshire Water, Scarborough Magistrates heard yesterday.

The company was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £1,581 in costs, after admitting responsibility for the unlawful discharge in Runswick Beck, which runs into Runswick Bay, in April last year.

Mark Penny, Yorkshire Water’s director of customer service and networks, entered the guilty plea on behalf of the company.

Holly Webb, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said: “Following reports from the public an environmental officer attended Runswick Bay, and could see the beck was polluted. The water had a grey tinge and there was a smell of sewage.”

Samples were taken immediately downstream from the pumping station to which the spill was traced.

The officer found dead snails and midge larvae, with the only living creatures being pollution-tolerant worms.

Samples from further downstream found that there was still strong pollution and 43 per cent of the midge larvae discovered were dead.

The spill had been caused after the pumping station malfunctioned.

A gauge inside the pumping station had also not been working, meaning Yorkshire Water were not immediately aware of the incident.

Perminder Kaur, representing the company at the hearing, said: “Yorkshire Water deeply regrets the commission of this offence.

“There is no evidence that the effects were medium or long term.”

Following the case, a spokesperson for Yorkshire Water added: “We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and would like to reassure our customers that we acted immediately to mitigate any issues following a report of an incident at our pumping station.

“We have since made a significant investment in the pumping station to ensure that, where possible, any event like this can be prevented in the future.

“We are committed to playing our part in improving the quality of bathing waters on the East Coast and are investing £110 million over the next five years to make them amongst the cleanest in Europe.”