Tourist attraction fined for discharging poor effluent

The owner of a wildlife park in Somerset has been fined £4,000 after discharging sub-standard effluent into the Watley stream.

During 2003, the sewage treatment plant at Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park and hotel near Chard consistently failed to comply with its discharge consent. It was releasing excessive levels of ammonia.

The Environment Agency asked the park's owner, Warner Holidays, to upgrade the plant. It said, however, that the plant was not operating properly due to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease.

This had led to restrictions being imposed on the site by local health officers, including demands that chlorine be used to disinfect surfaces.

The Agency gave the company three months' grace, but problems continued.

On 18 August 2003, the Agency received complaints about pollution in the Watley stream and samples taken from it showed ammonia levels 12 times above normal.

The Agency implemented a programme of formal sampling of the works and it failed five more times between January and May 2004.

Appearing before Yeovil magistrates on 17 January, Warner Holidays pleaded guilty to four breaches of its discharge consent contrary to section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. It was fined £4,000, split equally between the four charges, along with £1,725 costs.

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