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Malcolm Galloway secured a ‘low culpability’ sentence for Northumbrian Water Ltd

Malcolm Galloway secured a ‘low culpability’ sentence for Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL) in a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency. NWL had previously pleaded guilty to one offence under Regulation 12(1)(b) & 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2016 in relation to effluent discharged from its Sewage Treatment Works (STW) at Broomley, Northumberland. NWL had also asked for two matters, contrary to the same Regulations, at Killerby STW and Summerhouse STW to be taken into consideration for sentence. It was agreed between the parties that this was a ‘Category 3’ pollution incident, however there was a contested hearing over the EA submission to the court that NWL’s culpability should be regarded as reckless. The EA submitted that the incidents were a “Reckless failure by the organisation to put in place and to enforce such systems as could reasonably be expected in all the circumstances to avoid commission of the offence.” This was strongly disputed by the Company who argued it showed a complete lack of understanding by the EA of how the STW operated and the measures the Company had put in place. After hearing submissions on both Culpability and how the court should approach sentencing a Very Large Organisation (VLO) in these circumstances, the District Judge at South Shields Magistrates Court found that the Culpability of the Company fell into the ‘Low Culpability’ bracket and sentenced NWL to a total fine of £27,000 for all matters.

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