ENVIRONMENT AGENCY NEWS RELEASE
Swindon Borough Council has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 today for polluting a tributary of the River Ray with leachate.
The council, of Euclid Street in Swindon, pleaded guilty to one charge of allowing polluting matter to enter the Lydiard Brook.
Swindon Magistrates’ Court fined the council £7,000 and ordered it to pay £3,768 costs.
The court heard that the council operates the Shaw Farm landfill sites, in Swindon, under a waste management licence issued by the Environment Agency. The council also operates the neighbouring Peatmoor landfill site.
The pollution was discovered in June 2006 by an Environment Agency officer who was checking the site following previous instances of poor management.
Leachate, a contaminated liquid created by the decomposition of waste, was found flowing over the land before entering the brook. It was estimated that somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 litres of this liquid had escaped from the site over a three-day period. Investigations suggested that a blockage within the leachate management system appeared to be the cause of the pollution.
The Lydiard Brook, which is a tributary of the River Ray, is a high quality stream. The impact of the incident was minimal due to the early detection by the Environment Agency officer as well as natural conditions in the brook, including reed beds in the stream and natural dilution.
Environment Officer Chris Young said: "The Lydiard Brook is a good quality watercourse which provides an excellent natural habitat for a wide range of aquatic plants and animals. Luckily, this time, there were no serious impacts to the environment. However, a sustained discharge of this kind could have had devastating impacts on both the ecology and water quality of the brook.
“We are pleased that the court took strong action today. It sends a clear message to other organizations that if you fail in your responsibilities to the environment, we will prosecute you.”
Members of the public are encouraged to contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 if they see pollution in a watercourse.