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Builders pay £135,000 amends for river pollution

Pollution in Pitty Beck

Keepmoat Homes, which owns the site at Heron’s Reach in Allerton, near Bradford, will donate £100,000. Applebridge Construction, which was contracted by Keepmoat Homes for the first phase of the development, will donate £35,000.

An investigation by the Environment Agency found that Pitty Beck was polluted several times between October 2016 and November 2018 while construction was under way.

The companies submitted enforcement undertakings to the Environment Agency, which have now been accepted. Enforcement undertakings are voluntary offers made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending and avoid prosecution. It usually includes a donation to an environmental charity to carry out improvements in the local area.

On 13th October 2016 Keepmoat Homes reported pollution from its site. An Environment Agency officer confirmed that silty water was running from the site and into the beck. It happened on numerous occasions over subsequent months. The company did not have an environmental permit to allow for treated water to be discharged into the beck.

In October 2017 Keepmoat obtained a permit to discharge water from one outlet at a maximum rate of no more than 40 mg/l of suspended solids. Only days later, a discharge containing 555 mg/l entered the beck from a different outlet, followed by the first of several permit breaches from the permitted outlet containing more than the allowed concentration of suspended solids.

As part of the requirements of the Enforcement Undertaking, Keepmoat Homes revised its surface water management plan for the site, constructed urban drainage ponds, purchased a siltbuster and gulley bags to remove sediment from the water leaving site and improved its inspection and monitoring regime.

Applebridge Construction employed a full time health and safety manager, reviewed and updated its environmental management system and delivered training to staff.

Environment Agency area environment manager Ben Hocking said: “Housing construction companies – like all companies carrying out any major development work – have a responsibility to ensure their work does not impact on the environment and we will take action when pollution occurs.

“While we will always take forward prosecutions in appropriate cases, Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements. They allow polluters to restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents by improving their training and procedures.”

Aire Rivers Trust said that it would use the donations for monitoring and prevention of pollution on Bradford Beck and to restore riverside habitats across the catchment.

Simon Watts, operations manager at the Aire Rivers Trust, said: “We’re pleased to see money from polluters being spent on restoring Bradford’s streams and river. We believe the work it will fund will create a lasting impact on the health of the beck that runs through the heart of Bradford.”

Earlier this month Costain agreed to donate £55,000 to Tyne Rivers Trust in penance for polluting the River Don in 2019 during works on the A19 in South Tyneside. [See previous report here.]

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