Last reviewed 28 July 2020

The Environment Agency has outlined a five-year remediation programme with measures a polluter must take to restore a river after an incident that killed over 100,000 fish.

The terms of a remediation notice issued under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2015 set out how over a five-year period, Omex Agriculture Ltd will be expected to aid the recovery of the River Witham after the company was found to have severely polluted it with ammonia in March 2018.

It is only the second time since the legislation has come into force that it has been used to have a polluter remedy environmental damage they caused and is a prime example of the powers the Environment Agency has to hold polluters to account.

The regulations identify three categories of environmental damage.

  1. Land damage — any land contamination creating a significant risk to human health.

  2. Water damage — any damage causing: deterioration of the ecological status or potential of a body of surface water; the chemical or quantitative status of a body of groundwater or the environmental status of marine waters.

  3. Habitats and species damage — any damage to protected species and natural habitats if it has significant adverse effects on reaching or maintaining the favourable conservation status of the protected species or natural habitat.

The regulations require operators to take preventative measures where there is an imminent threat of environmental damage, and to remediate any environmental damage caused by their activities.