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 Fines for illegally abstracting water to fill inland lake

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David Harvey

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PostSubject: Fines for illegally abstracting water to fill inland lake   Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:47 pm

29-Mar-2012

On Friday 23 March 2012, Heart of England Promotions Limited was found guilty at Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court to abstracting inland freshwater without a valid abstraction licence* at the Heart of England Conference and Events Centre, Coventry.

The company was found not guilty of a further charge of constructing a dam in inland waters.

Stephen Timothy Hammon was found guilty of allowing Heart of England Promotions Limited to commit the abstraction offence with his consent as Director.
The company and the Director were both fined £1500, and ordered to pay £1000 each in costs, along with a £15 victim surcharge.

The charge against Heart of England Promotions Limited was brought under Section 25 of the Water Resources Act 1991.

The charge against Stephen Timothy Hammon was brought under Section 217 of the Water Resources Act 1991.

This case concerns the abstraction of groundwater, via a borehole, without an abstraction licence – the term groundwater refers to natural underground stores of water, which supply wells and springs.
This happened at an ‘Adventure Park and Beach Resort’ at Fillongley, Coventry jointly owned by Heart of England Promotions Ltd and Stephen Timothy Hammon. The water was taken in order to fill a purpose built lake used by guests for activities including paddling and boating.

In May 2009, the Environment Agency received reports that a borehole had been drilled at the site and a pump had been installed to abstract water before authorisation had been obtained. When they visited the site, officers found that a generator was running and water was being drawn from the borehole.

Under Water Resources Legislation up to 20 cubic meters per day may be abstracted without the need for a licence from the Environment Agency. Environment Agency officers met with Mr Hammon and confirmed he needed to fit an abstraction meter to the pump to measure how much water he was taking, and also that only 20 cubic metres of water could be taken per day without an abstraction licence. Mr Hammon agreed to comply with this. However, during subsequent visits to the site Environment Agency officers noted from meter readings that more than 20 cubic meters per day had been abstracted during the period 14 May 2009 and 1 June 2009.

Both Heart of England Promotions Limited and Mr Hammon were invited for interview on 3 occasions. Both of them declined to attend on all occasions.

In mitigation, the court was told that the amount of water abstracted was only just over the allocated limit.
Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said: “This was a serious offence of ignoring environmental regulations which are in place for a good reason. We will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit such offences.’

-ends-
Notes to editor:
* By law, if anyone wants to remove or abstract water from a surface source (e.g. river, stream or canal) or from an underground source and takes more than 20 cubic metres a day, they need an abstraction licence.
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