The polluter, Multiroof Building Products Ltd, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in prosecution costs by Trafford Magistrates’ Court in February 2014 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to the fire in which an employee suffered burns.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said:
“Multiroof knew its manufacturing process involved working with highly flammable substances but not enough was done to control flammable vapours or remove potential sources of ignition… The fire caused considerable disruption in the local area and destroyed several neighbouring businesses, but it could easily have been prevented.”
TAS was hugely disappointed by the Environment Agency (EA)’s response to the pollution. The EA delayed deploying aerators to re-oxygenate the water and minimise the immediate impact, then refused to undertake a fish kill assessment, giving various unsatisfactory excuses to Fish Legal. It took over 18 months to conclude its investigation (against its own target of 12 weeks).
Despite concluding that the incident (a Category 2 – the second most serious) had a “significant impact on the environment” and “caused significant fish mortality”, as well as being an offence under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, the EA only sent a formal warning letter, rather than prosecuting the polluter.
After correspondence and negotiation with solicitors acting for MBPL’s insurers, Fish Legal has settled TAS’s claim for compensation and TAS will now receive a £6,500 cheque.
TAS was established in 1935 and operates several fisheries in the area. Grove Lodge was derelict until completely renovated by Rochdale & Oldham Groundwork Trust and TAS in 1989.
Raymond Barber, who is Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, Vice President and Trustee of TAS, and a member since 1961 said:
“It has been a long wait but we are delighted that the claim is at an end and grateful to Fish Legal for their hard work and perseverance in bringing it to a conclusion. The compensation will be reinvested in the fishery.”
Mark Lloyd, CEO of Fish Legal and the Angling Trust said:
“We are delighted to have secured a settlement for this angling club which has made a positive contribution to the local community by developing this area into a fishery. The civil compensation payment will also act as a deterrent to other businesses to manage their risks. It’s just a shame that the Environment Agency missed the opportunity to take a criminal prosecution which would have sent a clear message to businesses that pollution is unacceptable, whatever the circumstances. Instead, they let the polluter off with a slap on the wrist.”