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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Carlisle Dobbies store challenges sewage fine

A date has been set for a garden centre to appeal its “unprecedented” fine for pumping poorly-treated sewage into a stream.

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Charges: Dobbies at Orton Grange

Dobbies, which has a branch at Orton Grange near Carlisle, had previously admitted four charges of failing to comply with the requirement of its environmental permit.

However, the company – a subsidiary of Tesco – was shocked when city magistrates fined it a total of £75,000 for the crimes.

Bosses argued that the bill was “wholly excessive” and pledged to challenge the amount. Dobbies is also understood to be appealing the court’s decision to treat the four offences individually. The News & Star has learned that an appeal date has now been set for August 29 at Carlisle Crown Court.

The charges related to a malfunctioning sewage treatment plant beneath the centre, which is supposed to treat sewage and kitchen waste before pumping it into a water course in popular walking spot, Sowerby Wood.

An investigation into the pollution was launched following a complaint from a member of the public last April. The Environment Agency found a water course, which came off an unnamed tributary of the River Caldew, was contaminated with a “white discharge” and “strong sewage odour” which stretched about 1km downstream.

Magistrates were told that discovery of fungus was evidence that the problem had been there for some time. Dobbies failed to act immediately, although this was because head office had not been told of the issue.

The company has since been working closely with the manufacturers of the treatment plant to establish why it is not working as it should. Until the problem can be resolved, all waste is being “tankered” off site.

eparsons@cngroup.co.uk

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