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Water company gets another huge fine for pollution

POLLUTION: The outfall pipe from Southern Water’s Budds Farm site into a stream running into Langstone Harbour

Published in the Portsmouth News on Friday 22nd April 2011

By Jeff Travis

A WATER firm has been ordered to pay out almost £100,000 for polluting a beauty spot.

Southern Water received a hefty fine after allowing raw sewage to spill into Langstone Harbour from Budds Farm – its massive treatment works at Havant.

The sewage, which had only been crudely screened, was illegally pouring into Brockhampton Creek for more than a year.

Southern Water pleaded guilty yesterday at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court to 16 illegal discharges between April 29, 2008, and September 2, 2009.

The court also took 25 other discharges into account and handed out a £96,000 fine, plus £3,440 costs.

It is the second time in a fortnight that Southern Water has been fined. Last week it was fined £50,000 for releasing untreated sewage at Fort Cumberland, Eastney.

Ann Buckley, who sits on Langstone Harbour Board, watched the conviction from the public gallery.

She said: ‘I am very pleased with the outcome.

‘It was a very serious matter and there’s been a great deal of public interest in this.’

The discharges happened after sewers became blocked, meaning that during heavy rain a pumping station became overwhelmed with the volume of water.

The sewage was released through an emergency outfall pipe.

Under an agreement with the Environment Agency, this pipe can only be used if there is a mechanical or electrical failure – not if there is heavy rain.

Graham Purvis, Southern Water’s wastewater quality manager, said: ‘We are sorry these incidents happened as we take our responsibility of protecting the environment very seriously.

‘We took immediate action to find out what went wrong and put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

‘We will continue to monitor the works to see if any other long-term improvements can be made.’

He said the company had installed four temporary pumps at the works and extra monitoring equipment to ensure the discharges do not happen again.

A £2m improvement scheme is due to start this summer at Budds Farm to ensure raw sewage does not enter the harbour.

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