Anglian Water fined £20,000 over sewage spill into Norfolk broad
17:39 08 March 2013
Anglian Water has been fined £20,000 after sewage spilled into a Norfolk beauty spot.
Sewage spilled from a pumping station at Filby, near Great Yarmouth, and into the Ormesby Little Broad last February.
The freshwater site, popular with boaters and tourists, is 2km from Ormesby Broad – where Essex and Suffolk Water draw some of the region’s drinking water from.
Neither the drinking water nor local wildlife were affected by the spill, but Environment Agency (EA) prosecutors today told Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court that Anglian Water could and should have taken measures to prevent the overflow.
“There’s a history of this pumping station overflowing,” said EA prosecutor Claire Corfield.
“Between September 2006 and March 2011 there were five cases of sewage spilling onto the car park of the adjoining Filby Bridge Restaurant.”
However, Sarah Le Fevre, defending Anglian Water said it was “utterly unforeseeable”.
It is believed the spill occurred after contractors carrying out maintenance at the station severed an alarm which warns of overflow – something that had “simply never happened before”, according to Anglian.
The water firm pleaded guilty to a charge of causing sewage and trade effluent to enter inland freshwater.
In a statement released after the case, a spokesman for Anglian Water said: “Anglian Water deeply regrets this accidental discharge of sewage into Ormesby Little Broad.
“This accident is particularly upsetting as the Broads are an important part of what makes the region we serve such a fantastic place to live and work.
“Thankfully, the environmental impact was small thanks to the very cold weather, the diluting effect of the Broad itself and the fact that much of the sewage was trapped in gravel as it flowed across a carpark.
“We take our responsibilities to the natural environment very seriously and have worked for many years to help improve the Broads for people and wildlife.
“This incident occurred when the pumps failed at our sewage pumping station in Filby. Normally, a warning system alerts us when the level of sewage in the site’s well begins to rise and we can respond accordingly. Unfortunately, this warning system had been damaged. This meant there was no alarm and the seriousness of the problem was not immediately known.”
The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £2,896 in legal costs.
Filby pumping station has since had new pumps and monitoring equipment installed to help prevent any problems and a bund wall has been built to contain any future spill.