Why are serious pollution incidents on the rise?

On the face of it, the fact that serious pollution rose by more than a quarter in 2018 compared with a year earlier seems alarming, but the reality is more nuanced.

The Environment Agency’s regulatory performance report attributed one third of the rise in total serious pollution cases to natural causes, such as algal bloom in watercourses caused by the dry weather, and greater surface run-off when heavy rainfall followed drought.

Simon Tilling, partner at law firm Burges Salmon, agreed that hot weather can play a big role as slow-running rivers are less able to cope with contaminants, and warm, still air tends not to disperse bad smells, while more people are outside to notice them. 

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