Severn Trent Water Limited was fined £4,000 with costs of more than £5,888 on 26 April at Nottingham Magistrates Court, following prosecution by the Environment Agency. The company pleaded guilty to polluting the Ouse Dyke.

On the 21 November 2005 Environment Agency officers were called out to a pollution incident on the Ouse Dyke, Conway Road, Gedling. The officers arrived at the site and saw sewage effluent and sludge in the dyke. Samples of the sewage were taken to test for ammonia and dissolved oxygen. The source of the sewage discharge was traced back to a storm balancing structure located at Foxhill Road, Carlton.

Severn Trent Water were carrying out cleansing works on the storm balancing structure, but further investigation showed that a blockage on the combined sewer system had caused sewage to spill into the storm structure.

Precautions had not been taken here, to prevent the sewage escaping from the storm balancing structure into the storm sewer and subsequently into the Ouse Dyke.

Environment Agency officers investigated further downstream on the Ouse Dyke to assess the impact of the sewage further. The sewage affected approximately 1.3 km of the Ouse Dyke and further samples and photos of sewage were taken at Teal Close.

Tests on the samples showed that the sewage was highly polluting.

After the court case, Bernie Flanagan, who was involved in the Environment Agency investigation said; ‘The case against Severn Trent highlights how important it is for water companies to consider their impact on the local environment when carrying out routine maintenance and reactive works. The Ouse Dyke supports coarse fish such as Stone Loach and Stickleback. This incident was avoidable.’

In mitigation Mark Scoggins told the court that Severn Trent Water had acted responsibly after the incident and that it had not been deliberate or motivated by profit.

In passing sentence, District Judge Clews said that the incident which had occurred in a residential area had caused a highly polluting discharge that could have and should have been prevented. Furthermore, no blame could be attached to the sub-contractors who were on site at the time.