In February 2007 an Environment Agency officer visited Dewley Burn, near Newcastle, after reports of pollution and found several hundred metres of the stream affected. He traced the slurry to a culvert below Ibstock Brick’s factory in Throckley.
On visiting the works, the officer found a pipe leading from an onsite chamber to the culvert. He was told it was usually blocked with a bung but the bung was missing.
Appearing before Newcastle magistrates on 29 February, the company admitted it had caused polluting matter to enter controlled waters, contrary to sections 85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.
The Agency told the court the slurry had had a "major impact" on the ecology of the stream, damaging wildlife populations and biodiversity.
The fine took into account Ibstock’s relatively large size and the fact the firm had been fined £15,000 five years ago after two similar pollution offences at the same site, one involving clay slurry and the other diesel (ENDS Report 347, p 64 ).