Taylor Wimpey fined £480,000 for polluting Welsh river

The house builder was found guilty of charges relating to breaches in Environmental Permitting Regulations at Cwmbran Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Multiple pollution offences caused by illegal water discharge activities occurred at the Edlogan Wharf site between January and October 2021.

Inspections carried out by officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) revealed that the pollutant on each occasion was caused by water run-off from the site, which had been contaminated with silt.

NRW officers met on site with the representatives of Taylor Wimpey in February 2021, to discuss the necessary permit application requirements and mitigation measures that needed to be implemented in order to minimise the risk of pollution.

A warning letter was also served to Taylor Wimpey on 23 February and the 13 May but over the following months there were a further six confirmed incidents and five unconfirmed incidents relating to pollution caused, or allegedly caused, by silty water discharging from the site.

During a follow up visit on 29 October, water samples obtained and analysed by NRW officers revealed a significant increase in the levels of suspended solids in the watercourse.

This can have a negative impact on fish and other invertebrates, clogging their gills and reducing light penetration in the water.

Silty water from construction sites can also contain chemicals – such as fuel and oil from machinery or generators which can also have a detrimental impact on the environment.

Susan Lenthall, Environment Officer for Natural Resources Wales said: “The construction industry has a duty of care to the communities in which they operate, to ensure the correct controls and safeguards are in place in order to prevent incidents such as these occurring.

“In this case, Taylor Wimpey were made fully aware by NRW officers of the requirements that were needed to install effective silt mitigation methods, that permits were required for discharging treated surface water to a watercourse and that any discharge of contaminated water was an offence under Environmental Permitting Regulations.

“The discharge was a deliberate attempt to save money and reckless in their disregard to the environment. Their failure to put in place suitable mitigation methods meant that silt run off from the site continued to negatively impact the nearby water courses and the River Llwyd over a period of 10 months.

“I hope this fine will send out a clear message that environmental legislation is to be taken seriously. We will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those who disregard regulations and jeopardise the natural environment we all know and love.”

Taylor Wimpey was fined £480,000 and ordered to pay a £181 surcharge and £8,591.40 in costs.

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