Environmental Pollution

Environmental Pollution fines

Fines for environmental pollution as a result of construction activities have been in the headlines recently. A construction company was fined £4,000 by SEPA for polluting the Bothlin Burn in Kirkintilloch, Tesco Stores Ltd has been ordered to pay over £8million in fines and costs after pleading guilty to a pollution incident in Lancashire and the Aberdeen bypass consortium has recently been fined £280,000 following the entry of significant quantities of silt into the Rivers Don and Dee, along with their tributaries.

Construction projects throughout the UK are being monitored by environmental agencies such as the Environment Agency and SEPA to ensure compliance with legislation and best practice. Recent changes in legislation have given these authorities powers to fine projects for non-compliance.

Environmental impacts of silt

Silt is described as fine sand, clay, or other material carried by running water and deposited as sediment. These particles can become quickly suspended in water given the right conditions, becoming washed away from its source and heading towards nearby watercourses and waterbodies. Silts are readily released from construction activities and carried away in water.

If silt is allowed to reach a water course it can cause significant environmental damage to the aquatic environment when in suspension and deposited on the riverbed. Silt pollution can smothering fish eggs including trout and salmon as well as clogging the gills of fish. Silt can prevent feeding for filter feeders such as Freshwater Pearl Mussels (FWPM), and also reducing the quality of habitat for aquatic riverflies who act as a key food source for many species that live in and along the river.

Why should constriction sites manage silt?

Whilst silt in itself is a natural substance and occurs naturally, any construction works that breaks the earth’s surface layer increases the rate at which silt is produced.  Without adequate mitigation any ongoing works have the potential to significantly increase the silt load of nearby water courses negatively impact local water courses, and bring around long term impacts for the species that are supported by it.

Sediment pollution can cause significant damage to the aquatic environment that may result in projects being delayed or abandoned. Recent legislation means that a fine or criminal prosecution could be brought against a sites including fines of up to £3 million and a possible prison sentence.

How can Ellendale Environmental help?

With proper planning it is possible to manage silt runoff on a project to avoid negative environmental impacts to the surrounding water bodies.

Ellendale Environmental’s ECoWs are experienced in managing and silt  and can help you through advising on site drainage, the management of high risk activities (such as water crossings and excavations). We work to identify and management the risk across a construction site. Our ECoW’s provide continued checks and advise to ensure that your silt mitigation continues to operate effectively throughout the duration of the project.

Stewart Parsons