House-builder, Taylor Wimpey, has been fined £488,772 after failing to implement appropriate measures to prevent multiple pollution incidents in the river Llwyd, Pontypool

Silty water entering the river Lywyd from the site.

House-building company Taylor Wimpey has been fined £488,772 after failing to implement appropriate measures to prevent multiple pollution incidents over a number of months which impacted the river Llwyd and its tributaries in Pontypool.

Pollution offences occurred at the Edlogan Wharf site, causing illegal water discharge activities occurred at the situated along Bevan Road, Sebastopol, Pontypool between January and October 2021.

Inspections by officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) revealed that the pollutant on each occasion was caused by water run-off from the site, which had been contaminated with silt. Silty water from construction sites can also contain chemicals – such as fuel and oil from machinery or generators, which can also have a detrimental impact on the environment and the fish that live in the river.

Warning letters were sent to the company in February and May 2021, but over the following months, there were a further six confirmed incidents and five unconfirmed incidents relating to pollution caused, or allegedly caused, by silty water discharging from the Edlogan Wharf development site.

In a follow up visit on October 29, samples revealed a significant increase in the levels of suspended solids in the watercourse.

The river, which flows through Cwmbran before entering the Usk and then the Bristol Channel, was once previously badly polluted by industry, mining and fly-tipping from the industrial South Wales, but has been revived by various initiatives since the 1980s. These improvements in water quality meant that when salmon were present in the river once again, the Environment Agency built a fish-pass at Pontymoile in 2010 to allow them further access to the river upstream.

Susan Lenthall, NRW’s local Environment Officer, said: “The construction industry has a duty of care to the communities in which they operate, to ensure the correct controls and safeguards are in place in order to prevent incidents such as these occurring.”

In this case, Taylor Wimpey were made fully aware by NRW officers of the requirements that were needed to install effective silt mitigation methods, that permits were required for discharging treated surface water to a watercourse and that any discharge of contaminated water was an offence under Environmental Permitting Regulations.

“I hope this fine will send out a clear message that environmental legislation is to be taken seriously. We will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those who disregard regulations and jeopardise the natural environment we all know and love”.