Severn Trent fined for polluting Heapham lake

Severn Trent Water has been fined £24,000 after polluting Heapham fishing lake in Gainsborough for the fourth time in seven years.

It was reported that hundreds of fish died in April 2011 when a blockage in the sewer was not cleared for more than a week due to IT and scheduling errors, Lincoln Magistrates’ Court last week.

Mrs Claire Corfield, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said that sewage and trade waste had polluted a stream that passes through Heapham Lakes, owned by West Lindsey District Council as part of a flood protection scheme.

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The pollution continued into the River Till and more than three miles of water had been affected.

Environment Agency officer Sarah Gillanders said: “An extensive clean-up operation was needed after this pollution and fish had to be rescued from the lake and moved to safety.”

“Had Severn Trent responded sooner, the serious effect of the pollution could have been minimized.”

A sample taken from the lake at the time showed that grossly polluting levels of Biochemical Oxygen Demand were 172 times higher than would be expected in unpolluted water and gasping fish had to be rescued. On 8th April, 360 dead fish were counted floating on the surface including carp, bream, tench and pike.

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Severn Trent spokesman Mark Scoggins added that this was not a case of ignoring a problem as a crew went to the nature reserve three times to try to clear the blockage and had the company known that there had been a pollution they would have responded quicker.

Heapham Lakes is used by anglers but this is not the first time that sewage pollution caused by the water company had stopped fishing there. In April 2004, 7,000 fish were killed and four months later, fish used to restock were also killed by pollution. Three years later there was a further pollution.

As well as being fined £24,000, Severn Trent was also ordered to pay full costs of £6,884.