As we continue to see total apathy from Sandwell council regards taking action about the problems involving serious water pollution in its pools via Seven Trent Water’s failed monitoring and abilities to prevent this, it appears that those at the helm in Oldbury are content to splash the cash on another white elephant statement building to be built in West Smethwick park. A report presented to cabinet states that “the sum of £581,000 currently in the capital programme and a sum of £92,777 of existing Section 106 monies be allocated for the use of West Smethwick Park DC/12/55069 & DC/08/49405 to fund the increased capital cost of the development of the new pavilion, landscape improvements and heritage works at West Smethwick Park. “
Incredible how they can find this money for yet another hair brained scheme, like the aquatics centre’s costs which just continue to swallow money and leave the tax payer in at the deep end.
The shite jacuzzi a stones throw away in Londonderry Lane aka “SHP” however continues to be a monument to inaction, and personally I don’t believe that anything will be done here, even though , for the moment, it remains in the council’s published revised budget for 2020/21.
Another absolute disgrace are the Environment Agency’s latest assessments of the performance of water companies for 2019.
Last years published 2018 EA report into water company performance revealed that Severn Trent had been docked a star from their rating by the EA- from 4 to 3.
Dave Throup, EA manager for H/W said in a tweet
“Generally woeful environmental performance by English water companies during 2018 highlighted in our annual report. Our local company @stwater performance has deteriorated and it failed to meet targets on discharges or ceilings on pollutions.”
THE FULL EA 2018 REPORT CAN BE READ HERE.
I put in an FOI request to obtain the 2019 report, and have to say, as I will explain, the figures for this are dubious to the point where the Environment Agency’s method of calculation appears to be another fraud, and disingenuous of water company performance, because of the way in which they are only compiling figures for what they term “Category 1″ and “Category 2″ events.
I have outlined this abysmal common incident classification system in this post, but basically it means that where fish are reported to have died following a pollution incident, this gets a prompt EA and higher response. But in incidents such as the sewage pollution carnage and subsequent bird deaths at Smethwick Hall Park last year, caused by Severn Trent Water’s incompetence, this incident was only recorded as a “category 3” , meaning that fines and a prosecution would not be pursued by the environment agency! As I have said before, and will again, the EA’s “environment” is one of fish economy, and any other form of wildlife , particularly water fowl, are worth nothing to them.
“Last year’s report made clear that performance was unacceptable across the sector, this report shows performance deteriorated for the second year in a row. This comes soon after England’s shocking water classification results showed just 16% of water bodies meet the criteria for Good Ecological Status against 25 Year Environment Plan’s target of 75%.”
Obviously the Environment agency are winning here then. 😆
As for the comments of the Chair of the EA Emma Howard Boyd holding up this serial Midlands polluter as one of good practice, I can only say Luv, you are living in bloody cloud cuckoo land if you think they they are an example of “industry leaders” and need to get out more in this area to see for yourself sites like Smethwick Hall park and what has not happened there from last year, because it does not say very much about the privatised water industry when you hold them up as the stars FFS!
Not mentioned conveniently in this report are the fines that were dished out in the last year, and this is where it gets very interesting regards Severn Trent Water, and in contrast the absolute joke of how this relates to their “improved” performance.
I would suggest anyone interested in environmental matters reads the ENDS report , which gives an excellent fines and prosecutions monitor of water companies and others causing pollution incidents. You can sign up for a free 2 week trial here.
What can be seen here, is that in June, Severn Trent were given two fines of £400,000 plus costs for allowing 3.8 million litres of sewage from a treatment works near Shrewsbury to be discharged into a stream for a year and a half.
The full report even appears on the .GOV website as an EA boast!
The EA officer is quoted as saying
“Water companies are aware that their activities have the potential for serious environmental impacts, and they know that we will take appropriate action when they cause pollution.”
Yeah sure, so long as it involves fish! It is interesting to note in the Shrewsbury case that STW had been unaware of a longstanding failure of monitoring and serious length of discharge, and this reminds me of the failures at Smethwick Hall Park, where it is quite apparent from NIRS reports, that the issues of sewage entering this pool had been going on for a long time as well before it was dealt with- and only it appears AFTER the EA had been there themselves.
It is important however to report pollution incidents regarding water companies promptly and to the EA first, as the eagle eyed dog walker had in the case above, as at least this will screw over the water companies performance of “self reporting” and lower this statistic. 😉
But there’s more, because Severn Trent were also penalised with other past pollution offences last year. Another ENDS report article reveals
“Severn Trent Water agreed four undertakings, totalling more than £359,000. All were for failing to meet permit conditions, contrary to regulation 38(2) of the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2016, and again related to incidents at sewage treatment works. £158,000 went to the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, £100,000 to the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. £60,892 to the Severn Rivers Trust. £40,500 to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.”
These so called “Environmental undertakings” are explained in the forward of the 2019 EA report as
“An EU is a voluntary agreement offered by those who have committed a less serious offence that becomes legally binding once accepted. It funds local environmental improvements but also requires that steps are taken to put right what went wrong and to prevent it happening again.”
I have to say that I find these a complete joke, as do I the receiving top table charities who appear to benefit, and I would ask:
HOW ARE THESE CHOSEN, AND WHY SHOULD THEY BE WELL KNOWN AND ESTABLISHED AND WELL FUNDED ORGANISATIONS WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES LIKE THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS?
How do the beneficiaries of these payments manage to get to that position? I would also comment that they do nothing to care for, rescue or rehabilitate water birds that suffer as a consequence of sewage contamination, such as that seen at Smethwick last year.
The wildlife trusts do not rescue or rehabilitate ill wildfowl that have been poisoned by these shite merchants , and nor do they clean up the mess. What exactly has any of this money gone towards for the criminality of private water companies; admin costs or self promotion, as appears to be the case with most large charities?
I think the EA seriously need to look at giving smaller organisations such as The Linjoy wildlife sanctuary , who have cared for and rehabilitated birds made ill through Severn Trent Water’s actions some cash, because I am sure as one drop of water follows another that there will be more cases to come due to the unresolved issues in this part of the world.
Only a couple of months ago, another Severn Trent water failure in Walsall lead to the deaths of several hundred fish at Barnes Lane Pool– so I guess they will not get away with that one 😉 .
It was quite apparent that the contraption shown below had overloaded and spewed out unmentionables which then headed for the pool. Visible evidence was left behind, despite Severn Trent’s clean up guys trying to remain tight lipped about what had happened.
I had to chase another related incident, earlier this year, concerning the Nature Reserve at Stubbers Green through an FOI where the EA had originally appeared to try to cover this up with a pretty vague response, as did Walsall council unfortunately with a “blocked inlet” story revised to “vandalism of a sewer pipe”. I think the story about “vandalism” is highly dubious to say the least, though it is clear to see once again sewage pollution from a Severn Trent Water asset killed fish in this “category 1” incident. . The final EA NIRS report can be read HERE.
This incident was also caused by pollution into Barnes Lane pool, and I have no doubt via the same source.
This is therefore further evidence that the apparent “improvement” by this water company is nothing of the sort, and that statements made by the head of the Environment Agency are totally false and a fabrication of the truth. It is also correct to point out that the fines themselves are chicken feed to companies like STW, especially when they are also actively selling off pieces of land formerly in public ownership for housing schemes, which will no doubt ultimately deliver more “misconnections” to contaminate the environment. Bear in mind the salary of CEO Liv Garfield is reportedly over £2M per annum.
The privatised water industry is not delivering good environmental performance, and the victims of its actions and incompetence get no reimbursement from a regulator that is supposed to enforce the law. It’s time for a major overhaul of the Common Incident Classification Scheme, as we can clearly see it is protecting only the serial environmental polluters like Severn Trent Water PLC.