Trago Mills' Liskeard store fined for sewage pollution

A major retailer has been fined for polluting a tributary of the River Fowey in Cornwall.

Trago Mills pleaded guilty to discharging poorly treated sewage from staff and customer toilets at its store in Liskeard.

Charles Robertson (Developments) Ltd, which runs Trago Mills, was taken to court by the Environment Agency.

Bodmin magistrates fined the company £10,000 and ordered it to pay £1,550 costs.

The court was told the site had a permit to discharge biologically treated effluent, but it had to be of a certain standard.

'Sludge blanket'

But when an Environment Agency officer visited the store last July, the sample taken was "extremely poor" and breached the permit.

Sewage sludge was visible around the discharge point, causing levels of suspended solids 14 times higher than the permitted limit.

The discharge was immediately stopped on the request of the agency officer and an investigation into the cause was started.

The company said hot weather had caused a "sludge blanket" in the treatment works to rise without warning, while a split pipe had caused excessive agitation of the effluent.

Under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010, it is an offence to discharge poisonous, noxious or polluting matter into an inland freshwater.

The court was also asked to take another breach in January into consideration.

Charles Robertson (Developments) Ltd admitted the breaches and said it was taking steps to improve the treatment process at the site.

The Environment Agency said it was important for sewage treatment works to be regularly maintained and monitored to ensure they complied with permit conditions.

"The Trago Mills sewage treatment works discharges into a tributary that flows for only a short distance before it converges with the River Fowey - a valuable salmon and sea trout river," spokesman Phil Christie said.

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