Companies that polluted rivers and streams or made other environmental breaches have agreed to pay more than £2.2 million to a host of green charities and local projects.
The largest contribution comes from Wessex Water, who will cough up £975,000 as redress for a series of sewerage spills at Swanage in Dorset.
In that breach, more than 142,000 cubic metres of sewage was discharged into the sea during illegal spills in 2016 and 2017, the Environment Agency said.
A total of 15 charities and projects will benefit from the enforcement undertakings offered by the companies and signed off by the Environment Agency, which announced the payments on Friday.
Wessex’s payment is the highest in UK history and involves £400,000 going to a local council flood defence scheme in Swanage and £400,000 to Dorset Waste Partnership to fund a doorstep recycling service for domestic fat, oil and grease.
Carlsberg UK will pay a combined £120,000 to two organisations for polluting the River Nene in Northampton, where the company has a brewery and bottling plant.
Tesco will give £100,000 to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for polluting a watercourse and ponds with diesel, while Yorkshire Water Services will pay £200,000 to the same trust for polluting a river.
“We take these environmental incidents very seriously and these payments of more than £2.2 million direct to charities will help them carry out vital projects to improve our environment right across England,” the Environment Agency’s legal services director Peter Kellett said.
The Wildlife Trusts’ senior policy manager Ellie Brody hoped the payments reminded businesses of their responsibility to maintain a clean environment.
“Obviously we would have been happier if these incidents hadn’t occurred at all. However it’s a good principle that polluters should offer redress for the damage they cause,” she said.
“The money will enable work which will benefit wildlife and wild places, and which otherwise wouldn’t be funded.”
As well as making these charity payments, each company has accepted liability and made efforts to restore the environment and avoid future offences.