A civil engineering contractor from Oldham was fined £8,000 at South Lakeland Magistrates’ Court this week for polluting Barkin Beck, which flows into Lupton Reservoir, at Old Hutton near Kirkby Lonsdale, with silt.
Westshield was awarded contract worth over £4.5 million to construct a 20 kilometre water supply main, two pumping stations and a service reservoir on behalf of United Utilities.
In September 2004 the work resulted in silt entering Barkin Beck. The reservoir was also discoloured by the levels of silt in the watercourse.
According to the Environment Agency, high levels of silt can reduce the amount of light getting through the water, which affects plant growth and invertebrate life. It can have an adverse effect on fish habitats, including having an abrasive action and clogging fish gills causing suffocation.
Speaking after the hearing Environment Officer Sharon Brazier said: “Prior to the works Westshield had several meetings with the Agency and was made aware of the precautions it needed to take when working in or near rivers. The Agency provided the company with copies of its pollution prevention guidelines and commented on the company’s method statement.
“This incident would have been prevented with the introductions of control and mitigation measures before carrying out the works. The company should have anticipated the possibility of heavy rain and associated saturated ground conditions, however works started without any pumps or settlement tanks in place.”