Anaerobic digestion firm fined for pollution

CH4 Power was hit with a £12,000 bill for polluting a stream last year

A new renewable energy company landed a £12,000 bill on 3 March for polluting a stream with organic waste last year.

CH4 Power Ltd appeared before King’s Lynn magistrates and pleaded guilty to twice breaching sections 85(1) and 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. It was fined £5,000 with £7,284 costs.

The offences occurred between January and March 2010 as the firm was installing an anaerobic digestion plant, at Moat Road Farm in Terrington St Clement, King’s Lynn.

The plant was to use organic waste for electricity generation. But stockpiled waste vegetables had been stored inadequately and CH4 Power had failed to ensure the site was well-drained.

More waste had been stored than intended because the site's digester had failed to work. The court heard that a brown liquid, smelling strongly of onions, had entered the stream from an overflowing containment ditch and through land drains. More than seven kilometres were affected.

Environment Agency officers first visited the site in the January, but the land drain was still discharging in March when extensive clean-up was required. Pollution had been ongoing for at least two months.

After the hearing, agency officer David Batterham said: “When vegetable matter is stored it starts to compost and break down, producing a concentrated liquor which is extremely polluting. This incident shows how important it is to ensure that drainage systems are designed and sized appropriately and tested to ensure that they are fit for purpose.”

A spokesman for CH4 Power told ENDS the company was “deeply regretful” for the incident. He added it had since taken measures to ensure there would be no repeat.

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