Ornamental Plants accepts Environment Agency civil sanction

Environment Agency's first civil sanction for pollution offence accepted by supplier after fuel leak.

A Homebase bedding supplier has accepted the UK's first civil sanction for a pollution offence from the Environment Agency.

The agency accepted an offer of an enforcement undertaking from Lancashire bedding and hanging baskets nursery Ornamental Plants.

A leak of fuel from its Tarleton site, near Preston, into a stream last summer led to a breach of the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001.

To avoid prosecution, make amends and prevent a repeat, Ornamental Plants pledged to roof over its fuel tanks, waterproof a bund, provide spill response equipment and build an emergency storage system. It also made a voluntary contribution of £100 to Martin Mere Wildlife Trust.

Sales director Ian Howard said: "We had a leak from a bunded tank discovered by the Environment Agency, with which we worked. The issue was minor and we cleared up the leak. We were asked to donate a £100 sum to the local wetland trust, which we were happy to do."

He added: "My advice to other companies in the same situation is that working with the Environment Agency is always the best course. If you're anti-agency, it doesn't help either party."

Enforcement Powers - Offences net donations to green causes

The stepping up of the use of new powers follows the Environment Agency accepting 26 "enforcement undertakings", almost all for packaging offences.

They have netted £217,647 in donations to green causes, mostly to local wildlife trusts or WWF, Friends of the Earth, Groundwork and Waste Watch.

IT distributor Steljes made the largest payout, providing £25,000 to Surrey Heath Borough Council for restoration of the Basingstoke canal.

The Environment Agency has not yet made use of its other sanction powers, such as voluntary monetary penalties of up to £250,000.

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