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R v Anglian Water Services Ltd [2003] EWCA Crim 2243

Environmental Law - Appeals - Sentencing - Appeal against sentence for environmental offence - Offence of discharge of sewage effluent into river - Fine of £200,000 manifestly excessive for single offence - Water Resources Act 1991, s 85(3)(a)

5 September 2003

The appellant (AWS) pleaded guilty to an offence under s 85(3)(a) Water Resources Act 1991 of causing the discharge of sewage effluent into a river. On 15 March 2002, Basildon Crown Court fined AWS £200,000. The discharge came from a sewage treatment works operated by AWS. It resulted from the de-threading of a bolt on a computer-operated gate that controlled the flow of sewage. The computer failed to recognise the problem and a safety monitor was not in place as it was being repaired. The judge concluded, inter alia, that the quantity of the sewage discharge was around 200 tonnes and had catastrophic effects on wildlife and fish, and AWS was grossly irresponsible in failing to have a safety system in operation and in failing to have the site manned to ensure the proper operation of the relevant equipment. AWS had 65 prior convictions including 64 for sewage discharge. In mitigation, the judge took into account the guilty plea, AWS’s co-operation with the Environment Agency, its res...

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