Company prosecuted by NRW for river pollution offences

Housebuilding company Taylor Wimpey has been fined £488,772 after failing to implement appropriate measures to prevent multiple pollution incidents which impacted the River Llwyd and its tributaries in Pontypool, in 2021.

The construction company was found guilty of a charge relating to breaches in Environmental Permitting Regulations at Cwmbran Magistrates Court.

Multiple pollution offences caused by illegal water discharge activities occurred at the Edlogan Wharf site, situated along Bevan Road, Sebastopol, Pontypool between January and October 2021.

Inspections carried out by officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) revealed that the pollutant on each occasion was caused by water run-off from the site, which had been contaminated with silt.

NRW officers met on site with the representatives of Taylor Wimpey in February 2021, to discuss the necessary permit application requirements and mitigation measures that needed to be implemented to minimise the risk of pollution.

A warning letter was served to Taylor Wimpey on 23 February and the 13 May yet, over the following months, there were a further six confirmed incidents and five unconfirmed incidents relating to pollution caused, or allegedly caused, by silty water discharging from the Edlogan Wharf development site.

During a follow up visit on 29 October, water samples obtained and analysed by NRW officers revealed a significant increase in the levels of suspended solids (small solid particles which remain in suspension in water) in the watercourse.

Susan Lenthall, Environment Officer for Natural Resources Wales said: “Environmental regulations are in place to help protect people, wildlife, our rivers, and land. The construction industry has a duty of care to the communities in which they operate, to ensure the correct controls and safeguards are in place to prevent incidents such as these occurring.

“In this case, Taylor Wimpey were made fully aware by NRW officers of the requirements that were needed to install effective silt mitigation methods, that permits were required for discharging treated surface water to a watercourse and that any discharge of contaminated water was an offence under Environmental Permitting Regulations.

“I hope this fine will send out a clear message that environmental legislation is to be taken seriously. We will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those who disregard regulations and jeopardise the natural environment.”

Taylor Wimpey was fined £480,000 in fines, as well as being ordered to pay £181 surcharge and £8591.40 in costs bringing the total to £488,772.40.

Natural Resources Wales
May 2023

What we think

Protecting the environment is of the utmost importance and it should be something that we all take responsibility for, both in our work and personal lives. It is extremeley disappointing that a large organisation like Taylor Wimpey failed to follow the advice of NRW Officers in connection with the permit application requirements and mitigation measures that needed to be implemented to minimise the risk of pollution.

It is quite shocking that as well as receiving two warning letters, there were six further confirmed and five unconfirmed incidents, which resulted in a significant increase in the levels of pollution of the watercourse. It seems to me like a blatent disregard for the Environment and associated regulations which are put in place to protect the environment. I hope the fine imposed on this organisation will serve as a warning to all organisations, not just construction companies, that putting the environment at risk and breaching environmental legislation will be taken seriously by authorities and perpetrators will be held to account.

How we can help

Wiser Safety have a variety of solutions including the following:

  • Provision of Competent Safety Partner Services to ensure compliance with current legislation
  • Review of existing Policies, Procedures and Safe Systems of Work
  • Development of Policies, Procedures and Safe Systems of Work including Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments
  • Construction Site Safety Inspections
  • Workplace Audits
  • Environmental Audits
  • Consulting and Compliance Management of ISO 14001:2015

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