VWS (UK) Limited, a waste company, was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £11,000 after pleading guilty to 10 offences of breaching environmental permits. In addition, the company asked for a further 306 breaches to be taken into consideration by the court.

The court heard that the company allowed brewery effluent to pollute a river in North Yorkshire for over a year.

The company held environmental permits in 2008 and 2009 to operate effluent treatment plants for two breweries in Tadcaster. The treatment plants were designed and built by the company and enabled the effluent to pass thorough a variety of biological and chemical processes before being discharged into the river in a state which would not cause pollution to the river or environment. Each permit specifies the maximum levels of suspended solids, ammonia and biological oxygen demand which the company must not exceed.

During the period 2 June 2008 – 26 July 2009 the discharge limits from the treatment plant of one brewery showed biological oxygen demand levels were up to 27 times higher than permitted. Further, between 21 April 2008 and 31 July 2009 the company was in breach of discharge limits for suspended solids, biological oxygen demand and ammonia from the treatment of the second brewery.

Two of the 10 charges the company admitted to related to their failure to have appropriate on-site management systems to prevent the permit breaches.