Yorkshire Water pays for environmental damage

March 1, 2022

Yorkshire Water has agreed to pay £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust after a sewage discharge led to environmental damage and pollution in Leeds in 2018.

The company breached its environmental permit due to an unauthorised sewage discharge from its Garforth Storm Tanks, which led to a pollution incident at Kippax Beck.

Yorkshire Water submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending.

Flows at Garforth Storm Tanks are managed by an automated valve, controlling and isolating the sewage. The tanks will fill during times of heavy rainfall.

If the valve fully closes, it means all sewage and rainfall are diverted to the storm tanks and an alarm alerts Yorkshire Water. Sewage levels in the storm tanks are then monitored using level sensors and alarms.

On 17 November 2018, the Environment Agency alerted Yorkshire Water to discoloured water in Kippax Beck. Enquiries by the company revealed the valve was fully closed. It meant the storm tanks had filled and were discharging into a nearby watercourse.

Neither the valve alarm nor the storm tank sewage level alarms had triggered, meaning the system had appeared to be operating as normal. The valve was manually opened to prevent any further discharge.

The impact was widespread and appeared to have affected the beck and its wildlife for 3.3km.

Area Environment Manager, Ben Hocking, said: “When companies fail to meet their environmental obligations, it’s a serious matter and we will take appropriate action, which may include civil sanctions.

“Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement option to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements.

“This payment of £300,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will bring great benefits to nature reserves in the local area.”

The offer from Yorkshire Water details how it has also taken steps to make improvements, including replacing and repairing machinery and equipment, carrying out a review of alarms, and completing an environmental survey.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will use the donation to fund a series of projects at nature reserves in the Lower Aire valley.


This is valid as of 1st March 2022.

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