Six biggest payouts made by companies for breaking green laws in 2022

Here is a round up of the six biggest environmental payouts dished out this year, the largest amounting to over £25 million pounds.

Pound coins and bank notes. Source - GettyImages, Tek Images

Sutton Bridge Power Generation - £25,947,275

The biggest payout listed on the fines monitor this year was made by the energy firm Sutton Bridge Power Generation. It was issued a civil penalty of £25,947,275 in May 2022 for failing to surrender sufficient allowances to cover the 2020 reportable emissions by 30 April 2021 contrary to regulation 41 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2012.

Emissions trading schemes work on the 'cap and trade' principle, with sectors covered by the scheme receiving a free allowance of the amount of emissions they can release that is capped and can buy and trade emission allowances on top of this at auction or on the secondary market.

Qualifying organisations must surrender allowances equivalent to the amount of their emissions for each scheme year. If they fail to do so, as in this case, they may be subject to enforcement and receive a civil penalty.

Dairy Crest - £1,772,747

In June, one of the UK’s biggest dairy firms Dairy Crest was fined £1,772,747 after repeatedly polluting a river near its factory in Cornwall. It was sentenced to 20 counts with five to lie on file.

The offences included releasing a harmful biocide, used to clean the wastewater tanks and pipework, into the river and killing thousands of fish over a two kilometre stretch on 16 August 2016. As made headlines, it was charged with coating the River Inny with a noxious, black sludge for 5 kilometres in 2018, through a release of a mass of suspended solids in July and August 2018. It was also charged with consistently exceeding limits on substances like phosphorus and suspended solids entering the River Inny, from 2016 up to 2021 and numerous leaks of part-treated effluent into nearby watercourses and onto the land.

Dairy Crest was also charged for its foul odours repeatedly affecting residents over many years and failing to tell the Environment Agency within 24 hours of when things had gone significantly wrong on site, on seven separate occasions.

Yorkshire water- £1,623,032.79

In July, Yorkshire Water was fined £1,600,750 after it was revealed that between August 2017 and September 2018 the company had spilled sewage at least 25 times at various points into the Bradford Beck river in West Yorkshire. The company also had to pay  £22,112.79 in court costs, and victim surcharge of £170.

The Fines Files #1 : How a water firm's 'reckless' sewage spills led to a £1.6m penalty.

The company was charged for several counts including causing unauthorised sewage discharges contrary to section 12 (1) (b) and 38 (2) of the environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 and  failing to comply with the conditions of its environmental permit by failing to maintain the pumps and associated controls at their George Street Detention Tank were in a good working order Contrary to Regulation 38(2) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

ARL 011 Limited- £1,327,764 

The fourth biggest fine on this list is also a charge under the EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2012. ARL 011 Limited was fined £1,327,764 for failing to surrender sufficient allowances to cover the 2020 reportable emissions by 30 April 2021 contrary to regulation 41 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2012.

This company is in administration.

Diageo - £1,212,389.78

Diageo, which operates six distillery installations in Scotland that were obliged to participate in the EU emissions trading system (ETS) under its third phase that began in 2013, had to pay a £1,212,389.78 civil penalty. The company was found to have been carrying out a regulated activity without a permit, contrary to regulation 9 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2012.

The original penalty given to Diageo by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency was over £1.4 million but the alcohol company appealed and was given a 35% reduction in March.

Anglian Water - £908,605

Anglian Water received a number of penalties in 2022 for breaching Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations. The water company’s biggest fine this year, and also the sixth biggest fine on our monitor overall, was received for causing several incidents of pollution across Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire between May and September 2019.

In a ruling on 12 October, Anglian Water was ordered to pay a £871,000 fine and £37,605 in costs to the Environment Agency.

In a separate case the same week at Cambridge Magistrates Court, Anglian Water was sentenced to pay £350,000 after a pumped sewer at Caldecott in Cambridgeshire burst. This was the sixth time this has happened since 2004. Alongside the fine, they were told to pay £28,025 in costs as well as a victim surcharge of £181.

To see a full list of the fines handed out this year, which is frequently updated by the ENDS team, check out our fines monitor.