YORKSHIRE Water has been fined £7,500 after sewage was found in a beck which runs onto Runswick Bay’s award-winning Blue Flag beach.
The company admitted a charge of failing to comply with its environmental permit following the incident in Runswick Beck on 26 April last year.
The Environment Agency brought the case which was heard before Scarborough Magistrates Court on Friday (6 May) who ordered the company to also pay £1,581.67 in court costs.
Barrister Holly Webb, representing the Environment Agency, told the court that a member of the public alerted officers to sewage fungus which was visible on the bed of the beck.
The Environment Agency also found that the water has a grey tinge and there was a smell of sewage.
The sewage was traced to a Yorkshire Water pumping station at Runswick Bay where sewage solids were visible and the odour was stronger.
Yorkshire Water was alerted and it confirmed that there was a fault with the pumps and discharge had been stopped.
An Environment Agency officer took water samples and carried out a biological survey of the beck immediately downstream of the pumping station.
He found dead snails and midge larva and the only living creatures were pollution-tolerant worms.
A second site further downstream found that there was still strong pollution and 43 per cent of the midge larvae discovered were dead.
The court heard that sewage fungus in the beck was still present when officers inspected it on 14 May.
In interview, Yorkshire Water accepted that the gauge in the pumping station’s telemetry system had not been working properly which meant that no alarm was triggered when the pumps malfunctioned.
In mitigation, Yorkshire Water said it acted quickly once it was informed by the Environment Agency of the problem and entered an early guilty plea.
Yorkshire Water also said it had made considerable investment in its infrastructure since the incident.
Speaking after the court case environment officer for the Environment Agency John Sherwood said: “This was serious pollution of a beck which had an impact on the environment. Everyone has a duty to protect the environment and we will not hesitate to prosecute if an individual or company has failed in this responsibility.”