Cemex pollution fine reduced on appeal

The Court of Appeal has cut cement company Cemex’s £400,000 fine for a release of kiln dust to just £50,000. The fine was a record under the pollution prevention and control regime.

The pollution incident occurred in October 2005 and was caused by failures in plant maintenance (ENDS Report 381, pp 4-5 ). Staff found a cement kiln door hanging off its hinges and tried to force it shut. Cemex continued to operate the plant, despite knowing the door was not secure, causing a large amount of dust to escape through a gap.

The wind carried the hazardous dust for up to three miles and it settled on a residential area. However, there was no hard evidence of damage to health.

On 18 July, the Court of Appeal ruled that the fine was “disproportionate” in the absence of a fatality or injury, or deliberate failure by Cemex.

The Environment Agency said it was a “disappointing result” given the incident’s “gravity” and “environmental impact”. Nevertheless, it said it respected the decision. It called for sentencing guidelines to assist courts with environmental cases.

The Macrory report on penalties for environmental offences recommends that only the most serious cases go to court. Most non-compliance could be dealt with by the regulator through a system of administrative penalties (ENDS Report 383, pp 37-39 ).

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

Most-read articles


Principal Planner

Leeds is a fast growing city and the main driver of a city region with a £64.6 billion economy.

Officer 2 Environment Team x 2

Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Environment Team Leader

If you want a role that offers variety and challenge, and to be a part of an organisation that has the sustainable management of natural resources at the core of our purpose, we would love to hear from you.

Installations Officer - Control of Major Accidents Hazards (COMAH)

We are looking for two enthusiastic professionals to join our North West Hub Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulatory team as Installations Officers.

Installation Officer

If you’re part of the Environment Agency (EA), you’re part of the solution. Working with us means protecting and improving the environment for generations to come, tackling issues of national importance across a huge variety of disciplines.

Sustainable Development Programme Manager

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a driven and motivated individual to join a forward thinking and dynamic Directorate within Public Health Wales.