The discharge, in March 2008, occurred without an effluent or discharge consent via a drain belonging to Northumbrian Water. It continued for 22 hours after the water company ordered it to stop.
Gladman Developments Ltd pleaded guilty to causing polluting matter to enter controlled waters, breaching sections 85(1) and 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. It was also ordered to pay £3,276 in costs.
The court heard that pollution from Gladman’s site in Birtley, near Chester-le-Street, was first reported to Northumbrian Water on 6 March. An employee found contaminated water from the site being pumped into a surface water drain and into Rowletch burn, a tributary of the river Team.
The site manager claimed the company had permission to do so. But the developer was told to stop the discharge which contained silt. The firm later admitted that it did not have a discharge consent.
Agency officers attended the next day and ordered the company to stop pumping the effluent, immediately halting the discharge.
Samples taken downstream of the discharge had over 100 times more suspended solids than those upstream.