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£500,000 fine after raw sewage flooded country park

Raw sewage at Sutton Park Credit: Environment Agency

Severn Trent Water has been fined £500,000 for discharging thousands of gallons of raw sewage from its sewer network onto land at Sutton Park, Birmingham in November 2013.

The company was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £50,693.97 and a victim surcharge of £120.

The visitor centre received complaints of sewage smells and a park ranger found a large amount of sewage flowing from a manhole cover and spreading across the surrounding area.

The sewage had spread across an area bigger than an international rugby pitch. Sewage had also got into Longmoor Brook and Longmoor Pool within the Park.

There's a lot of love for Sutton Park. It is used and enjoyed by many, it's a prime site for wildlife and is part of the history of the West Midlands. The sewage spill incident caused by Severn Trent Water and the impact it had is amongst the worst damage to a SSSI that Natural England have witnessed.

It's particularly disappointing as water companies should have technology and processes in place to prevent this type of spill from happening. Natural England have supported and worked closely with the Environment Agency and I hope that the outcome of this prosecution helps highlight the importance of protected sites and the need to look out for them.

– Emma Johnson, Natural England’s Area Manager for the West Midlands

During sentencing the judge said that although the clean-up operation had been slow and poorly managed, that the company had ultimately taken all necessary steps to clear up the park and that it had made a long term commitment to restoring the affected area.