Severn Trent fined over Heapham Lakes dead fish

Water company Severn Trent Water has been fined £24,000 after polluting fishing lakes in Lincolnshire.

More than 300 fish died in Heapham Lakes in Gainsborough in April 2011 when a sewer blockage remained uncleared for more than a week.

Severn Trent said scheduling errors due to a new computer system led to delays in clearing the sewer.

The company, which pleaded guilty, was also ordered to pay full costs of £6,884 at Lincoln Magistrates' Court.

The Environment Agency, which brought the prosecution, said Severn Trent was alerted by West Lindsey District Council on 29 March about flooding on Theaker Avenue Nature Reserve.

On 8 April, the Environment Agency was contacted by the council's angling club which reported dead fish in the lakes.

A sample taken from the lake showed "grossly polluting levels of BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) 172 times higher than would be expected in unpolluted water", according to the Environment Agency.

In a statement, a spokesman from Severn Trent said: "A blockage in our foul sewer caused a discharge on to land.

"This then entered the surface water drainage pipe via a cracked private manhole cover and was subsequently discharged into the ponds.

"The delay in the initial response to the blockage was caused by a combination of teething problems between Severn Trent's IT systems and those of our contractor and human error.

"We were upset to hear that we had caused the death of fish in this area and we take our environmental responsibility very seriously."

The spokesman added the IT issues had been resolved and further controls had been brought in to prevent similar events.

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