AN ENVIRONMENTAL watchdog has said recent prosecutions for pollution should send out a clear message of zero tolerance.
The Environment Agency has hit out at Southern Water for allowing 16 illegal discharges of untreated sewage from Budds Farm, its massive treatment works in Havant.
As reported in The News, the water company was fined £96,000 for the discharges, which went on for almost 18 months and spilled into the protected wildlife haven of Langstone Harbour.
The water company, of Yeoman Road, Worthing, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to the offences at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
The court case came just a week after the company was fined £50,000 for allowing unscreened sewage to enter Langstone Harbour from an outfall pipe at Fort Cumberland, Eastney.
Rowan Casebow, from the Environment Agency, said: ‘Prosecution is usually the last resort for us, but it is clear that the situation at Budds Farm sewage treatment works could not be tolerated.
‘The company allowed 40 discharges for nearly a year without anything being done to prevent them and without the Environment Agency being informed about the long-standing problems at the site.
‘Even after that period, the problems were still not resolved by the water company as a further discharge took place in September 2009.
‘Considering that Budds Farm is its largest sewage works, and the environmentally sensitive nature of the harbour is, it is very disappointing that Southern Water did not recognise the problem and take immediate action to deal with it.
‘I hope this case sends out a clear message that any pollution must be avoided or stopped as soon as possible, and if companies continue to neglect their environmental responsibilities they will be prosecuted.’