£300,000 to be paid to environmental charities in latest EA enforcement undertaking round

Seven companies have agreed to pay out just over £300,000 to charities following environmental rule breaches in the latest round of enforcement undertakings announced by the Environment Agency.

Foam on water surface. Source - GettyImages, Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo

Enforcement undertakings are voluntary offers made by an offender to mitigate the impacts of offences that might otherwise result in a prosecution and fine. If the Environment Agency chooses to accept the offer, it becomes a legally binding agreement.

The joint biggest payout was offered by major UK housebuilder Bellway Homes Ltd., which was found operating without or other than in accordance with an environmental permit for waste operation.

The breach relates to the dumping of waste soil that was contaminated with mixed waste on land at Five Mile Park, Wideopen, near Newcastle upon Tyne. The offence happened between November 2017 and July 2020.

The company will pay £50,000 to Northumberland Wildlife Trust, £30,000 to Wear Rivers Trust and £20,000 to Tyne Rivers Trust. It must also carry out a number of other actions which include the removal of the waste from the site, reviewing soil movements and associated protocols, and introducing a new audit procedure. 

Bellway Homes made headlines in 2020 when it was hit with the largest fine ever given for a UK wildlife crime at £600,000 after it demolished a site known to be home to bats, without applying for the protected species licence required. 

Elsewhere, Muller UK & Ireland Group Limited Liability Partnership offered to pay £100,000 to Shropshire Wildlife Trust after it discharged processing effluent from its site at Tern Valley Business Park, in Shropshire. This went against the conditions of its environmental permit and resulted in pollution of the river Tern in January 2018.

The other actions it must take include updating its accident management plan, appointing a new effluent treatment plant  manager, and introducing a new daily monitoring requirement. 

The second highest payout was by Dwr Cymru, Welsh Water, which will contribute £50,000 to The Wye and Usk Foundation after permit breaches at three of the company’s sewage treatment works.

Marsh Holdings (GBR) Limited have offered to pay £5,000 to Suffolk Wildlife Trust after operating without or other than in accordance with an environmental permit related to flood risk activity. This relates to the dredging of a river and associated works on the river Gipping in Great Blakenham, Suffolk, in October 2020. 

Revolution Beauty Ltd, a popular cosmetics company in the UK, was also included in the latest enforcement undertaking round. It has offered to pay £9,160.98 to Marine Conservation Society after failing to register and take reasonable steps to recover and recycle packaging waste under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations. 

Two other companies were also found to be in breach of their packaging obligations: manufacturing company Hexcel Reinforcements Limited and retail company Interior Goods. The companies will pay £30,090.08 to The Woodland Trust and £17,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust respectively. 

The ENDS Report keeps track of these updates on its Enforcement Undertakings Database.