Severn Trent – Environment Agency prosecution

On Monday 19th February 2024, we appeared in court in relation to two offences dating back to late 2019 and to early 2020. We had previously pleaded guilty to these offences at the earliest opportunity relating to unlawful discharge from our sewage treatment works near Barlaston, Stoke on Trent into the River Trent, in breach of our environmental permit for that site. The judge handed down a fine of £2,072m for the offences.

There was an issue at site where in December 2019, one of the screw pumps failed. However, two screw pumps remained in operation while a replacement pump had been ordered from our supplier in Germany. Unfortunately, in February 2020, a second screw pump failed, leaving just one pump operating. This pump couldn’t cope with any increases in rainfall and caused sewage to prematurely overflow into the river.

We reported what had happened to the Environment Agency, and we were open and honest throughout. We identified and addressed the specific site issues, and lessons have been learned and action taken.

This unfortunate combination of events had not previously occurred at this site, and there’s been no repeat issues since at site. We now have implemented the highest standard of contingency plans in place, with more spare pumps and equipment on site including motors, as well as additional third-party breakdown cover from suppliers.

In the four years since the issue, we have continued our focus to have the highest standards of environmental performance, embedding good practice and sharing learning when things go wrong. 

We take our environmental obligations extremely seriously, and demand a high level of environmental compliance across all areas of the business, which is recognised in our overall performance.

We know people will feel let down by what happened in 2019, and we are sorry for the issues that led to this happening. We’ve accepted full responsibility and completely regret the course of events that happened.