How the wrong environmental assessment led to a water firm ending up in court

At the start of the month, the High Court ruled that a permission to use a temporary outflow pipe to discharge treated water into a protected area was unlawful due the lack of an appropriate assessment.

At issue was a 12-month extension to a permission that United Utilities had gained from Cumbria County Council in October last year that allowed it to continue to use a temporary outfall pipe at its Kendal Wastewater Treatment Works to release treated water into the River Kent, parts of which are legally protected special areas of conservation. The main outfall pipe had been washed away by Storm Desmond in 2015.

The claimant in the case was a trustee of Kent (Westmoreland) Angling Association, who was supported by the Angling Trust and environmental charity Fish Legal. They claimed that United Utilities had failed to carry out a proper impact assessment under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

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