A WATER company has agreed to donate £235,000 to a wildlife trust after polluting a North Yorkshire watercourse.

Yorkshire Water will pay the cash to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust after an investigation by the Environment Agency.

The water company breached its environmental permit with an unauthorised sewage discharge from Stray Road combined sewer overflow (CSO), which polluted Hookstone Beck in Harrogate.

It submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a donation to a wildlife charity to carry out environmental improvements in the local area.

Yorkshire Water said when things went wrong it understood it had a duty to "make it right", adding it had updated its facilities since the incident happened.

Stray Road combined sewer overflow has an environmental permit which allows a discharge into the beck when the storm sewage facility is fully utilised due to rainfall or snow melt.


But on August 27, 2015, it discharged illegally during dry weather and sewage fungus was evident on the bed of Hookstone Beck.

As part of the Enforcement Undertaking requirements Yorkshire Water has upgraded its telemetry to allow continuous monitoring of the storm overflow at the site.

Claire Barrow, Environment Agency area environment manager, said: “Sewage pollution can be devastating to human health, local biodiversity and our environment. Storm overflows must only be used under strict permitted conditions that control their environmental impact.

“We are holding the water industry to account like never before and while we will always take forward prosecutions in the most serious cases, Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.

“They allow polluters to correct and restore the harm caused to the environment and prevent repeat incidents by improving their procedures, helping ensure future compliance with environmental requirements.”

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “We have made significant improvements in our operations since this incident in 2015, including installing telemetry across 98 per cent of our CSOs (combined sewer overflows) with the remaining CSOs to be monitored by the end of this year. This helps to monitor our network and identify incidents of this nature so they can be corrected quickly.

“When things go wrong, we understand we have a responsibility to make it right. As a result we have donated £235,000 to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, money which will be spent in North Yorkshire to continue to provide excellent land for the people and wildlife of Yorkshire to enjoy.”

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the donations on environmental improvements such as native crayfish work in North Yorkshire and reed bed management at Ripon City Wetlands.