A firm that ‘unintentionally’ released contaminated water into a Buckinghamshire stream has paid up £15,000.

Water that was contaminated with sediment was released into Padbury Brook, near Barton Hartshorn, by Warwickshire-based excavation company AT Contracting and Plant Hire in May 2018.

According to the Environment Agency, the contamination was due to “human error”, and as an alternative to prosecution, the firm has paid £15,000 to the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Investigating the incident, the Environment Agency found that the offending was unintentional and had limited harm to the environment. The investigation found that the firm did not show “dangerous or foolhardy” behaviour.

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AT Contracting was given a chance to pay an enforcement undertaking, where companies can “make good” on the environmental damage cause by financial compensation, rather than through the courts.

According to the Environment Agency, the excavation firm also took several other positive actions as well as paying up £15,000, including stopping the discharge, removing the pollutant from the watercourse and improving water management.

The Environment Agency continues to prosecute individuals and organisations that show high levels of culpability and serious environmental harm.

Andrew Raine, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“The Environment Agency is an outcome-focussed regulator, seeking to make sure all businesses work within environmental laws.

“Human error on the part of AT Contracting led to the sediment being allowed to enter the river.

“Following the Environment Agency’s intervention, AT Contracting worked quickly to contain the incident. It has since worked to improve its water management systems to prevent this from happening again in the future.”

Members of the public with concerns about pollution should contact the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.