Firm Receives Third Prosecution

Environment Agency News Release

The Environment Agency has prosecuted Park Resorts Limited for the third time. The latest offence is for failing to treat sewage effluent to the standard required by their consent at Thorness Bay Holiday Centre in the Isle of Wight.

Park Resorts Limited appeared before Isle of Wight Magistrates on Monday 24 September 2007 and pleaded guilty to the offence. The company was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,248 to the Environment Agency.

Under section 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991, the holiday centre is covered by a consent from the Environment Agency. This allows the discharge of treated sewage to run from the site into a nearby watercourse.

The Environment Agency sets conditions under which treated sewage effluent can be discharged to ensure the environment is protected. One of the conditions imposed on the consent is that the level of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the discharge should not exceed 40 milligrams per litre. BOD is a measure of how much oxygen is taken up by bacteria entering the water. The higher the level, the more oxygen is stripped from the water. This is detrimental to any organisms living there. Another condition is that the level of suspended solids, which can smother macroinvertebrates that live in the bed of the river, should not exceed 60 milligrams per litre.

On 8 February 2007 an Environment Agency Officer took a sample of the discharge from the site's private sewage treatment works, installed to ensure compliance with the conditions of the consent, following previous non-compliances at the site. The officer discovered that the treatment plant was failing to manage discharge from the holiday centre. When measured the BOD level was over 60 milligrams per litre and the suspended solids level was measured at twice the authorised figure.

Thorness Bay is an area of high quality ecology and is part of the Thorness Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest, the Solent and Southampton Special Protection Area, RAMSAR site[1] and the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation. Due to the sensitive nature of the receiving waters in the area any pollution can be highly detrimental to the organisms that live there.

Commenting on the case, Environment Officer Jill Mears said: “We set limits to consents to make sure that the environment is not put at risk. As the owner of the property, Park Resorts should have learned from their previous convictions that they have a responsibility to the environment and must ensure that any potentially polluting discharge is discharged safely and that it meets the conditions of their consent.

“If our officers hadn't intervened the situation could have been far worse. Not only was there a risk of harming a significant and sensitive nature site in Isle of Wight but, as an area that is used for recreation purposes and for fishing, this breach of compliance could have also affected the amenity value of the area.”

The court took into account the early guilty plea by the company and the £185,000 they have spent since the incident on putting the problem right.