Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has used an innovative approach to dealing with a company which polluted the River Taff.
In January and September 2013, waste from PB Gelatins UK Limited site in Treforest unintentionally found its way into the river.
Although no fish were killed, the pollution killed insects which are an important food source for fish like trout and salmon.
Rather than prosecute the company, NRW accepted an offer by the company to use civil sanctions.
This meant that the company agreed to pay £20,000 to Gwyl Taf, a local project run by the South East Wales Rivers Trust.
It encourages schools and community groups to enjoy the River Taff in a positive and healthy way and will provide more long term benefits for people and the environment.
Jane Chapman, Principal Solicitor for NRW said:
“Civil sanctions are an alternative to criminal prosecution for some environmental offences and give us the chance to do something positive for the Taff and the local community."
“We can only use them for certain offences but they can help us to ensure organisations comply with the law, eliminate any financial gain and get them to carry out their business responsibly."
“There are several options open to us under the civil sanctions regime where it can be in the public interest to look at options other than a court case.”
PB Gelatins uses limes and acids to extract gelatine from animal bone chippings or ossien. The process produces waste ossien, lime and trade effluent which is discharged into the waste sewer system.
“Adding civil sanctions to our enforcement toolkit saves NRW time and money and frees up our legal resources to prosecute more serious environmental offenders.”
The company has also agreed to reimburse NRW’s costs in relation to the investigation.
Peter Abell, production manager at PB Gelatins UK said:
“We regret the incident as corporate social responsibility is a topic that is high on our agenda. We have always taken our environmental responsibilities very seriously and we have co-operated with NRW throughout the investigation of this incident."
“As soon as we became aware of the pollution incident we took action to limit its impact on the river."
“Since the incident we have invested heavily in further improving our infrastructure and practices to prevent a recurrence of such an event.”
Since its formation NRW has used civil sanctions on three occasions.
Last January, the Authentic Curry Company, of Hirwaun, made a donation of £3,356 to Brecknock Wildlife Trust in relation to packaging waste offences.
In 2013, John Liscombe Ltd, of Newport, made a donation of £9,000 to the Gwent Wildlife Trust in relation to packaging waste offences and in May, William Ernest Lloyd Harries, of Haverfordwest, donated £2,000 to Keep Wales Tidy in relation to fisheries offences.
In each case, NRW’s prosecution costs were also paid.