AN IMPORTANT Mid Cheshire coarse fishery will take years to recover after it was polluted with sewage, Chester Crown Court was told.
United Utilities was fined £35,000 after pleading guilty to causing sewage effluent to enter the River Croco, a tributary of the River Dane, which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 fish, and was also ordered to pay £6,883 costs to the Environment Agency.
Prosecuting, Richard Bradley told the court that, following reports from members of the public, the EA found sewage discharging from the Gas Works Yard Pumping Station, off King Street in Middlewich, into the river on two separate occasions last August and September.
The second incident resulted in a serious fish kill on the River Dane. Officers removed hundreds of dead fish including 750 barbel, 180 chubb and 70 roach.
The court was told that both incidents were caused when pumps on site tripped because of loss of power. The company relies on an alarm system to notify it of problems but on both occasions the company was not alerted. It has now installed five additional alarms and carried out improvements.
Winsford and District Angling Association, which owns the fishing rights on the River Dane, said the incident cost it revenue, while this season's permits will be down because the river will take years to recover. Both it and the EA will be restocking the river, but the court was told it will take a number of years for stocks to recover.
The EA's Nicki Rushton said: 'In addition to the re-stocking by WDAA we are also carrying out re-stocking and have ordered 2,000 roach, 2,000 dace and 200 barbel each year over five years.'
UU has paid nearly £4,000 to the AA in compensation and £22,000 to the EA for the restocking, which will start later this year.
UU said the pumping stations had been upgraded. Speaking after the hearing operations director Steve Fraser said: 'Every day across the North West, we treat 2,200 million litres of wastewater and return it safely to the environment, but unfortunately, things occasionally go wrong.
'We are very disappointed that these spillages occurred and we have taken measures to help make sure it doesn't happen again.'