Farm pays out £25,000 to wildlife charity after unlicensed water abstraction

An Essex farm has donated £25,000 to Essex Wildlife Trusts after an Environment Agency investigation found it to be abstracting water during a period of dry weather.

Strutt and Parker (Farms) Limited, Chelmsford, removed water from Beaumont Brook, Clacton-on-Sea, outside the terms of its licence in May 2019 - just days before a drought status was declared in the area.

An investigation by the Environment Agency (EA) said 420 cubic metres of non-licensed water had been abstracted, though added no environmental harm was caused “in this instance”.

The £25,000 donation was given as an enforcement undertaking offer, a civil sanction whereby businesses can propose steps to make amends for environmental offences.

According to the EA, the donation is one of the largest ever made in a water resources case.

Gavin Senior, EA officer said: “Enforcement undertakings are voluntary offers made by companies and individuals to make amends for breaching environmental regulations.

“When appropriate, they allow a better resolution for the environment than a prosecution as they require action to put things right in a way that directly benefits the environment and local communities”. 

Strutt and Parker holds a water abstraction licence for the winter period - 1st November to 31st March - and successfully applied for an extension until April 2019 after a period of very dry weather. 

However an EA inspection found that water was still being extracted from the abstraction point in Clacton in May. 

The donation to Essex Wildlife Trust will go towards wetland restorations at Fobbing Marsh and Blue House Farm, and a nature nursery at Abbots Hall Farm.

Conservation and fisheries organisations have campaigned for reform of the existing water abstraction licensing regime for many years.

According to the Angling Trust, EA data obtained by the World Wildlife Fund in 2016 showed that a quarter of rivers in England were at risk from unsustainable abstraction, with 14% classified as being abstracted to the extent that it was causing river flows to drop below levels needed to sustain the ecosystem.

The Environment Bill, currently in the Lords, brings forward plans to implement abstraction reform. However, it proposes that these reforms would not come into effect until 2028 - a date the Angling Trust has described as “alarming”. 

Related Environmental Services

Powered by ENDS Directory

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

News from ENDS Europe

News from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy