Restaurant convicted for blocking sewers with fat, oil and grease

We have successfully prosecuted a second restaurant for blocking the sewers with fat, oil and grease – which led to a nearby watercourse being polluted.  This is only the third time such a case has been brought in the UK.

SCE Catering Limited, trading as Saffron Cottage in Ford, Shrewsbury, was yesterday ordered to pay the maximum fine.  This was reduced due to their guilty plea, resulting in a total fine of £9,266, including costs, at Telford Magistrates’ Court. 

Under section 111 of the Water Industry Act it is an offence to discharge anything into the sewer that may interfere with the free flow.  In this case, a huge blockage, made up of fat,
resulted in the sewer overflowing into a local watercourse and causing a pollution.  The subsequent investigation found that Saffron Cottage restaurant was the cause of the blockage with fat used in cooking being put down the drain and into the sewer where it coagulated and caused the blockage.  We visited the premises on several occasions, and sent various letters, asking for grease traps to be installed and warning of the consequences, but the owners didn’t comply.

Chris Giles, Head of Network Operations, commented: “The verdict in this case is an important milestone for us, and we really want this to make other companies think about what they are doing with regards to disposing of fats, oils and grease and how it impacts our customers.  We clear around 50,000 blockages a year and fat contributes to the majority of those, as it binds together all the other things that end up in the sewer rather than the bin and creates huge lumps which block the sewers.  This is totally avoidable and in this case, simply installing a small grease trap could have prevented the situation.  Legal action is a last resort for us, but our customers and the environment shouldn’t have to suffer because of the actions of one business not following the rules, and ignoring our advice.”