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Civils firm admits pollution incident

Water

A civils firm has been fined after admitting an unauthorised discharge of water containing silt and sediment that turned a Huddersfield watercourse dark brown.

Flannery Civil Engineering, of Willow Bridge Way, Castleford, was also ordered to pay more than £2,000 in costs over the pollution incident that occured at the Lindley Park housing development in November 2013

The Environment Agency told Kirklees Magistrates’ Court that the polluted water should have been managed on the construction site.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said after the case: “Silt and sediment in particular is a very common problem – that’s why it is vital that construction companies take their environmental responsibilities seriously and ensure that effective pollution prevention is planned into every development at an early stage.

“Silt and sediment can coat the bed of a watercourse and damage the habitat of aquatic insects and similar. These are an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for fish and other higher species.”

The court was told that Miller Homes contracted Flannery Civil Engineering to construct four storage lagoons. Straw bales were used on the outflow of the lower lagoon to prevent silt from leaving the site.

But following heavy rainfall in November 2013, the lower lagoon filled with water. Flannery Civil Engineering removed the straw bales to allow it to drain. Silt water ran directly into the watercourse.

An investigating Environment Agency officer said using straw bales for sediment filtering was “inappropriate and inherently risky”. He added that there was no evidence of routine sampling or monitoring of the lagoons.

Flannery Civil Engineering apologised to the court, and accepted it had been negligent by failing to have measures in place to cope with an overfilling lagoon.

Edinburgh-based Miller Homes will be sentenced for its involvement in the same incident at Leeds Crown Court on Monday 11 April.

Both Flannery Civil Engineering and Miller Homes have been contacted for comment.

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